On Jan. 30, Johnson Space Center commemorated the men and women lost in the pursuit of space exploration by celebrating their lives, bravery and advancement in human spaceflight.
On January 27, 1967, a fire erupted in the Apollo 1 capsule as astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee were still on the launch pad. All three were killed. “The investigation into the fatal accident,” according to NASA, “led to major design and engineering changes, making the Apollo spacecraft safer for the coming journeys to the moon.”
On January 28, 1986, a mere 73 seconds after liftoff, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded when a booster engine failed, killing crew commander Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe.
And on February 1, 2003, astronauts Rick Husband — the mission’s commander, William McCool, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Blair Salton Clark, and Ilan Ramon were killed when the Space Shuttle Columbia, just 16 minutes from touching down, exploded when, according to NASA, “a piece of foam, falling from the external tank during launch…opened a hole in one of the shuttle’s wings, leading to the breakup of the orbiter upon re-entry.”
All three disasters happened within four days on the calendar, albeit in different years.
The Day of Remembrance commemorates not only the men and women lost in NASA’s space exploration program and their courage, but celebrates human space exploration since then. These astronauts and their families will always be a part of the NASA family:
Apollo 1 (Jan. 27, 1967): Astronauts Roger B. Chaffee, Virgil “Gus” Grissom and Edward H. White Jr.
Challenger (Jan. 28, 1986): Astronauts Francis R. “Dick” Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Judith A. Resnik, Ronald E. McNair, Ellison S. Onizuka, Gregory B. Jarvis and S. Christa McAuliffe
Columbia (Feb. 1, 2003): Astronauts Rick D. Husband, William C. McCool, Michael P. Anderson, David M. Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel B. Clark and Ilan Ramon