Columbia, Challenger, Apollo 1 Astronauts Honored with NASA’s Annual Day of Remembrance
NASA’s annual Day of Remembrance, scheduled for Friday, Feb. 1, will pay tribute to astronauts from three U. S. missions who lost their lives while pursuing the exploration of space.
A wreath laying ceremony led by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver is scheduled for the Arlington National Cemetery at 9:30 a.m., EST. Other commemorative activities are planned this week in Texas and Florida.
This year’s Day of Remembrance will mark the 10th anniversary of shuttle Columbia’s break up as the spacecraft sped through the skies above East Texas toward a landing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
The Feb. 1, 2003 tragedy claimed the lives of Columbia commander Rick Husband, pilot William McCool, mission specialists Michael Anderson, David Brown, Laurel Clark and Kalpana Chawla; and Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon.
NASA’s Johnson Space Center will mark the anniversary with events in Hemphill, the East Texas community where officials gathered after the breakup to coordinate the recovery of the crew and shuttle fragments. Ellen Ochoa, Johnson’s director, and astronaut Tim Kopra will offer their thoughts Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Family Life Center of the First Baptist Church. Astronaut Bill McArthur, Johnson’s safety director, will join them for a second gathering at the Family Life Center on Friday at 7:30 a.m.
On Wednesday, NASA’s Digital Learning Network at Johnson will host two educational events from the Patricia Huffman Smith NASA Museum in Hemphill at 10:45 a.m. and 2 p.m.
At the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Astronauts Memorial Foundation will host a public ceremony at the Space Mirror Memorial on Friday honoring Columbia’s crew and the astronauts who sacrificed their lives aboard Challenger and Apollo 1.
Evelyn Husband-Thompson, the Columbia commander’s widow , will speak at the 10 a.m., EST, memorial. Former NASA astronauts Eileen Collins and Jon McBride will speak as will Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations; Robert Lightfoot, NASA’s associate administrator; and Bob Cabana, the Kennedy Space Center director.
Shuttle Challenger’s crew was lost on Jan. 28, 1986, seconds after the spacecraft lifted off from Kennedy. Challenger’s breakup over theAtlanticclaimed the lives of commander Francis “Dick” Scobee, pilot Michael Smith, and mission specialists Judy Resnik, Ellison Onizuka and Ron McNair. Challenger’s crew also included Teacher-in Space Christa McAuliffe and Greg Jarvis, a Hughes Aircraft engineer.
The Apollo 1 fire occurred during a launch pad test on Jan. 27, 1967. Fire inside the capsule erupted during the exercise, trapping commander Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee.
Each of the losses prompted investigations and recoveries that enabled U. S. Apollo astronauts to reach the moon in July 1969 and shuttle crews to complete the assembly of the International Space Station. The final Apollo mission flew in 1975, and NASA retired its shuttle fleet after three decades of operations and 135 missions in mid-2011.
Currently, NASA is working to transition the orbital crew and cargo missions once flown by the shuttle fleet to commercial companies. The space agency is planning for future human deep space missions by developing the Orion crew capsule and the Space Launch System, a large rocket.
The first launch of an Orion crew atop the SLS rocket is planned for 2021. President Obama has directed NASA to prepare for a human mission to a near Earth asteroid in 2025. Future missions will aim for Mars.