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Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia Astronauts Remembered This Week
Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia Astronauts Remembered This Week

The Astronauts Memorial Foundation will honor the crews of Apollo 1, Space Shuttle Challenger and Space Shuttle Columbia on the Day of Remembrance this Friday, January 31st at the Kennedy Space Center Complex in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Richard Tribou reports for the Orlando Sentinel.

It was early evening on January 27, 1967 when tragedy first struck NASA. The three astronauts set to be the first manned mission of the Apollo lunar landing program were testing ahead of their planned February launch when fire broke at 6:31 p.m. during a simulation.

Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White and Roger B. Chaffee, died at Kennedy Space Center. It was a Friday.

Eerily, it would be 19 years and one day before the next NASA tragedy, when Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Central Florida, after an O-ring seal failed. People all over the country viewed the disaster live because the shuttle was carrying Christa McAuliffe, who would have been the first teacher in space, and fellow astronauts Michael J. Smith, Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, Ronald E. McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis and Judith Resnick.

It was a Tuesday.

The final NASA tragedy happened in the morning hours of February 1, 2003, when Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry on the shuttle’s 28th mission, killing its seven-member crew.

The crew of STS-107 included Rick Husband, Kalpana Chawla, William McCool, David Brown, Laurel Clark, Michael Anderson and Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon.

It was a Saturday.

Three days within a week of one another mark 17 deaths for NASA.

NASA will be honoring all three of the tragedies’ victims during the Day of Remembrance, which this year will be on Friday, January 31st with an event at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at 10:30 a.m. Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana and Kennedy Space Center Deputy Director Janet Petro will present a wreath at The Astronauts Memorial Foundation’s Space Mirror. The Visitor Complex will provide flowers for visitors to place at the memorial.