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Remembering the Challenger, Columbia and Apollo 17 Space Shuttle Astronauts

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  • Ilan Ramon, ‎אילן רמון (1954 - 2003)
    Ilan Ramon ‎אילן רמון (June 20, 1954 – February 1, 2003) born Ilan Wolferman was a fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force, and late...

The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave who 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'

President Ronald Reagan - January 28, 1986'

Space Shuttle Challenger

January 28, 1986

The orbiter was destroyed 73 seconds after liftoff on Jan. 28, 1986 when rocket booster seal failed, leading to a subsequent fireball and the deaths of all seven astronauts aboard - including Christa McAuliffe, the first school teacher to launch spaceward. 

Coincidently on this day 390 years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama.

Space Shuttle Columbia

February 1, 2003

The Columbia orbiter broke apart during reentry on Feb. 1, 2003 after a successful 16-day science mission. Wing damage sustained during launch by a chunk of fuel tank insulation was later cited as the accident cause.

Commander: Rick D. Husband, a U.S. Air Force colonel and mechanical engineer, who piloted a previous shuttle during the first docking with the International Space Station (STS-96).

Space Shuttle Apollo

January 27, 1967

Three astronauts perished in a fire that consumed their Apollo 1 spacecraft while it sat atop its launch pad as NASA worked feverishly to send Americans to the Moon.

NASA Day of Rememberance


Steven W. Lindsey, commander of NASA's shuttle flight STS-121. According to Lindsey, "Space and scientific research result in unexpected spin-offs and pushing the boundaries of human exploration are worth the risk.

The anniversaries remind us that we can never be complacent about anything. I think that you could wake up in the morning, and until you go to bed at night, and even while you sleep, wherever you are, you could look at multiple things that came out of the space program," Lindsey said. "It impacts everything that we do."

Risk will always go hand-in-hand with human spaceflight, Lindsey added.

"If we want a completely safe program, then we shouldn't fly at all," the shuttle commander said. "Because there's no such thing."

Historic Speeches