NASA Remembers Its Fallen Heroes, 30th Anniversary of Challenger Accident

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and his wife Alexis lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns as part of NASA's Day of Remembrance, Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, at Arlington National Cemetery.  The wreaths were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and his wife Alexis lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns as part of NASA’s Day of Remembrance, Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, at Arlington National Cemetery. The wreaths were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will pay will tribute to the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, as well as other NASA colleagues, during the agency’s Day of Remembrance on Thursday, Jan. 28, the 30th anniversary of the Challenger accident. NASA’s Day of Remembrance honors members of the NASA family who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Deputy Administrator Dava Newman, and other agency senior officials will hold an observance and wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia starting at 9 a.m. EST. Following the wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington, various NASA centers will hold remembrance events Thursday for employees and the families of those lost in service to America’s space program.

At 10 a.m., NASA Television will provide live coverage of a wreath-laying ceremony at the Space Mirror Memorial located at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. The observance is hosted by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, which is a private, not-for-profit organization. It built and maintains the Space Mirror Memorial, which was dedicated in 1991 to honor all astronauts who lost their lives on missions or during training. It has been designated a National Memorial by Congress.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, will observe the day with a candle-lighting ceremony for center employees, as well as a public event at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Marshall’s official visitor center, at 10 a.m. CST. NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, will hold an event for employees that includes placing flowers at the Apollo, Challenger and Columbia Trees at the center.

In partnership with the Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana, NASA’s Glenn Research Center will host former astronaut Greg Harbaugh for the opening of the exhibit “Inspiring the Future — The Legacy of Exploration,” at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond.

The agency also is paying tribute to its fallen astronauts with special online content available beginning Wednesday, Jan. 27 at:

http://www.nasa.gov/dor

For NASA Television downlink information, schedule information and streaming video, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

  • TimR

    Challenger’s crew are heroes but also innocent. They flew unaware of the true level of risk of the Shuttle. Columbia’s, all astronauts after Challenger, stepped on board with full knowledge. 1985 had just completed the highest launch rate that Shuttle would ever see – 9 flights. Everyone’s perception was unreal and pressures to not delay launch another day led to the pressures that icy morning. The repeat of management errors took more lives and Columbia, our flagship vessel. Honoring these lives lost also means looking sharply at the decisions being made today with NASA HSF, everything from safety to waste.

  • Snofru Chufu

    I assume you tried to say: Challenger’s crew were victims.

  • Tom Billings

    No, victims is a way over-used term. The entire astronaut corps knew the risks were higher than NASA wanted to talk about, and any of them would have replaced a Challenger crewman that fell ill, for instance. The basic problem was that a government agency could not admit it had allowed politicians as early as 1972 to decide the design characteristics of the Space Shuttle that led to the disasters of Challenger and Columbia. Doing that was a career-ending move, and one which congressional chairs would not forgive, so no one in the government-dependent aerospace industry could forgive that when hiring a former NASA official.

    Such career changes in NASA’s political environment had happened before. For instance, take Max Hunter, who’d taken the Thor IRBM from contract signing to first launch in 14 months, and had his fingerprints on every major US aerospace project for the next 25 years. In 1979 he refused Robert Mueller’s (then at NASA HQ) request that he join the whispering campaign against Space Services Inc. This new company was beginning the engineering and testing of sub-orbital and then orbital rockets. Mueller said, “Max, ya gotta help us, …these guys are amateurs who’ll blow up rockets left and right, and discredit everything we’ve built over the last 20 years!” Max refused, and never again was given charge of a government funded project by anyone, though he could pick up personal sub-contractor work for years.

    The astronauts knew this level of influence was there, and they still wanted to fly. That does not mean they were victims, any more than a free-fall parachutist is when his chute shreds as it opens. It was just part of the environment. Government kills. Lots of those it kills are people that were willing to take the risks, and lost their bet.

  • TimR

    I beg to differ in that pre-1/28/86, the astronaut corp did not recognize the level of risk. I’ve read several sources on Challenger. Some astronauts were aware of the blow-by in the SRB segments but through the early hours of 1/28/86, the Challenger crew was left out of the heated discussion. Before that day, very few astronauts had any reservations. All that changed with the commission that reviewed the disaster and exposed everything.

    Regarding your description of NASA internals, there is little argument. With Challenger, remember the Morton-Thiokol engineer who tried to prevent the launch – Roger Boisjoly. He passed away in 2012 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/science/roger-boisjoly-engineer-who-warned-of-challenger-shuttle-danger-dies-at-73/2012/02/07/gIQAu7DKxQ_story.html)

    Also, the “feudal organizational structure” remains intact. Read – http://live.washingtonpost.com/outlook-five-myths-about-nasa-0706.html