— Message from the President —

On February 7, 2019, President Donald J. Trump issued the following statement.

Each year, America pauses to remember its fallen astronaut heroes and the great accomplishments for which they strived. Melania and I mourn their passing and take to heart the lessons of their lives and the greater human potential to which they continue to inspire.

As our Nation continues to lead the world in forging a pathway to space, we honor the legacy of these brave men and women. We vow to continue building the bold future they envisioned for all of humanity on this Earth and beyond. Though our friends, colleagues, and family members have left this Earth, they will always be with us as we journey among the stars.

The loss of the courageous crews from Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia was not in vain. As Americans, our unwavering commitment to continue their heroic journey is unparalleled in the history of human exploration. We will continue to move forward and reach for new heights. We will persevere. And by doing so, we will lead the world into a new era of discovery.

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President Donald J. Trump

— Message from NASA's Administrator —

NASA's Day of Remembrance inspires thoughtful reflection and gratitude on behalf of the entire NASA Family, the nation and the world. Each time women and men board a spacecraft, their actions carry great risk along with the opportunity for great discoveries and the chance to push the envelope of human achievement. Today, we honor the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia crews, as well as other members of the NASA family who lost their lives supporting NASA’s mission of exploration. We are deeply grateful to all of them and will always strive to honor their legacy.

On this Day of Remembrance, I will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery with family members of our lost friends and colleagues. Across the country, all flags at NASA Headquarters and the NASA centers will be flown at half-staff in memory of our colleagues lost in the cause of exploration.

NASA has learned hard lessons from each of our tragedies, and we will keep that knowledge at the forefront of our work as we continuously strive for a culture of safety that also enables us to still reach for the stars. What President Reagan said of the Challenger crew applies to each of our fallen colleagues, who “honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives.”

The invaluable lessons from our past, and our determination to pay tribute to our crews’ achievements, continue to shape our path forward. Later this year, we will have another way to honor and learn from the tragedies we have faced. In April, NASA’s Apollo Challenger Columbia Lessons Learned Program, in partnership with the Office of Chief Engineer and Academy of Program/Project and Engineering Leadership, will launch the Space Shuttle Columbia National Tour at the Kennedy Space Center. For the first time ever in this format, artifacts of the Space Shuttle Columbia will tour our NASA centers across the country on a new mission to inspire, engage and educate. It is the heartfelt goal of this tour to pay tribute and honor each of our fallen crews by sharing their stories and what we have learned from them so that a whole new generation of leaders and explorers can stand on their shoulders. I hope all of you will have a chance to see it when it visits your region.

The legacy of those we have lost is present every day in our work and inspires generations of new space explorers. Every day, with each new challenge we overcome and every discovery we make, we honor these remarkable men and women. Please join me in working to fulfill their dreams for the future.

Ad astra,
Jim Bridenstine

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Jim Bridenstine Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

— Remembering Apollo 1 —

On Jan. 27, 1967, veteran astronaut Gus Grissom, first American spacewalker Ed White, and rookie Roger Chaffee were sitting atop the launch pad for a pre-launch test when a fire broke out in their Apollo capsule.

The investigation into the fatal accident led to major design and engineering changes, making the Apollo spacecraft safer for the coming journeys to the moon.

Apollo 1 Crew Photo

Apollo 1 Crew (l-r): Virgil I. Grissom, Edward H. White, Roger B. Chaffee
Image Credit: NASA

Video Remembering Apollo 1

— Remembering Challenger —

Just 73 seconds after launch on the morning of Jan. 28, 1986, a booster engine failed and caused the Shuttle Challenger to break apart, taking the lives of all seven crewmembers.

President Ronald Reagan eulogized the crew, quoting from the poem "High Flight": "We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'"

STS-51L Crew Photo

STS-51L Crew (l-r): Mission Specialist Ellison S. Onizuka, Pilot Michael J. Smith, Payload Specialist Christa McAuliffe, Commander Francis R. Scobee, Payload Specialist Gregory B. Jarvis, Mission Specialist Judith A. Resnik, Mission Specialist Ronald E. McNair.
Image Credit: NASA

Video Remembering Challenger

— Remembering Columbia —

The seven-member crew of the STS-107 mission was just 16 minutes from landing on the morning of Feb. 1, 2003, when Mission Control lost contact with the shuttle Columbia. A piece of foam, falling from the external tank during launch, had opened a hole in one of the shuttle's wings, leading to the breakup of the orbiter upon re-entry.

Addressing the nation, President Bush said, "mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on."

STS-107 Crew Photo

STS-107 Crew (l-r): Mission Specialist 1 David M. Brown, Commander Rick D. Husband, Mission Specialist 4 Laurel Blair Salton Clark, Mission Specialist 2 Kalpana Chawla, Payload Commander Michael P. Anderson, Pilot William C. McCool, Payload Specialist 1 Ilan Ramon,
Image Credit: NASA

Video Remembering Columbia