NASA Honors Challenger Astronauts

January 28th marks the day 30 years ago when a space shuttle dubbed Challenger launched from the earth. Viewers from all over the country viewed the event from the comfort of their homes thanks to coverage by CNN. Tragically, it did not last long. Barely two minutes after takeoff, the rocket burst into flames. NASA reported that the Challenger had been traveling at a speed of 2,900 feet per second when the explosion occurred.

The Brave Crew of the Challenger

All crew members; Mike J. Smith, Ronald E. McNair, Francis Scobee, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik, and Sharon Christa McAuliffe died in the explosion. McAuliffe, a teacher at New Hampshire High School, was the first private citizen on the crew headed for space. On Thursday, NASA held an event to commemorate the Challenger crew.

Family and friends of some of the astronauts attended the ceremony that commenced in Florida. The high school teacher’s son, who was only 9 when the tragedy occurred, was present at the event. Alongside him were some of those who had reached the finals of the Teacher in Space Program. Similar events were held in Alaska at the Marshall Space Flight Center and in Houston at the Johnson Space Center.

On this date every year, NASA pauses all routine duties to remember the fallen heroes. Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator and former astronaut, issued a statement in honor of the voyagers saying that the brave crew has his “eternal respect, love, and gratitude.”

President Obama paid tribute to the seven astronauts and a teacher, noting that their braveness was not in vain, adding that their story will go on. He lauded their sacrifice and heroism, saying that their story will serve to propel humankind to Mars and beyond.

Later on, Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator, and Dava Newman, his deputy, paid tribute to the crew of space shuttle Challenger, as well as Apollo 1 crew at Arlington National Cemetery.