NASA's week of tragedy: Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia remembered
It was early evening on Jan. 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 second 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.
Also killed were 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 Feb. 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, Jan. 31 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 Astronaut’s Memorial Foundation’s Space Mirror. The Visitor Complex will provide flowers for visitors to place at the memorial.
In addition, the Astronaut’s Memorial Foundation is marking each tragedy during Week of Remembrance events with a ceremony at the Space Mirror for the Apollo 1 crew at 3:45 p.m. today, the Challenger on Tuesday at 11:39 a.m. and Columbia on Saturday at 9:16 a.m.
Source: Orlando Sentinel