“Challenger” Space Shuttle Flag in Salt Lake City

An American flag that survived the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle in January 1986 is on display at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City through Labor Day.

NASA officials recovered the flag, placed aboard the tragic flight, at the request of Boy Scout Troop 514 in Monument, Colorado. The flag was returned to the troop in ceremonies later that year at Falcon Air Force Station.

“The flag had survived unscorched, unstained, unmarked,” according to Scoutmaster Bill Tolbert, an Air Force officer and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Some said a miracle, some said providence.”

The young men traveled to Washington, D.C., in 1987, where they presented the flag during a nationally televised commemoration of the Bicentennial of the Constitution.

While in the nation’s capitol, the Colorado scouts held a reverent flag ceremony at the graves of those Challenger astronauts who are buried at Arlington Cemetery. Since then, the flag has been brought out and presented for each Eagle Court of Honor of the Colorado troop.

The space shuttle display also includes mission patches, small flags, photographs, memorabilia, and presentation plaques from other shuttle flights, including items carried aboard flights taken by Dr. Don Lind, a Latter-day Saint jet pilot, and former U.S. Senator from Utah Jake Garn.

The Challenger flag and other space flight memorabilia can be seen in the window display cases of the hosting office in the northwest corner of the main lobby of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, 15 East South Temple Street. Building hours are 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.


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