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Fri, Jan 27, 2023

NASA Observes Day of Remembrance

In Memoriam

Shocked and disheartened by the unthinkable but eerily familiar news that a Space Shuttle had been lost, Americans reeled on the morning of 01 February 2003 as the nation’s media outlets crackled with accounts of STS-107—the shuttle Columbia—breaking apart as it reentered Earth’s atmosphere after 15-days, 22-hours, 20-minutes, and 32-seconds in space.

All seven astronauts aboard the vehicle perished, and the accident is broadly considered the impetus for the termination of NASA’s 39-year, $196-billion, 135-flight Space Shuttle program.

On Thursday, 26 January 2023, NASA observed a day of remembrance, honoring those who lost their lives in pursuit of humankind’s exploration of space’s eternal vastness. In addition to the brave souls lost in the Columbia disaster, the agency seeks to honor astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee, the crew of Apollo I, who perished in a launch-pad fire during a 27 January 1967 training exercise, and the seven spacefarers who perished in 1986’s Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

On Tuesday, 24 January, NASA Administrator Nelson, Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, and Associate Administrator Bob Cabana hosted a town hall event at NASA’s Washington D.C. headquarters during which the pair dialogued with agency employees about the invaluable lessons learned over decades of exploratory endeavor and the saliency of a strong safety culture. The event was live-streamed on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

On 26 January Administrator Nelson will lead an observance at Virginia’s Arlington National Cemetery, which will commence with a traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Thereafter, at 13:00 EST, the crews of Apollo I, Challenger, and Columbia will be honored in turn.

Of the event and those it honored, Nelson set forth: “NASA’s Day of Remembrance is about pausing, remembering, and uplifting the legacies of the NASA family who gave their lives to advance the cause of discovery. While this will always be a solemn day, it’s also one of gratitude. We are thankful that NASA’s adventurers shared their lives with us and made life better on Earth.”

Remembrances of NASA’s honored dead were also observed at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where a commemorative ceremony was held in the facility’s Astronaut Memorial Grove. The proceedings included a NASA T-38 flyover and taps performed by the Texas A&M Squadron 17, as well as remarks offered up by NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy and Johnson Center Director Vanessa Wyche.

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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