Skip to comments.Astronauts Remember Challenger Disaster - January 28, 1986
Posted on 01/29/2003 8:50:26 AM PST by MeekOneGOP
JANUARY 29, 08:17 ET
Astronauts Remember Challenger Disaster
By MARCIA DUNN
AP Aerospace Writer
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) Space shuttle Columbia's astronauts briefly interrupted their science work on the 17th anniversary of the Challenger disaster to remember their fallen comrades.
NASA's work force, in orbit and on Earth, observed a moment of silence Tuesday at the exact time that Challenger exploded in the sky Jan. 28, 1986. They honored not only on the seven Challenger astronauts, but also the three who were killed by a fire in their Apollo spacecraft at the pad Jan. 27, 1967.
At the launch site, flags flew at half staff for the second day in a row.
The two tragedies, separated by 19 years and a single day, represent the space agency's darkest hours.
``It is today that we remember and honor the crews of Apollo 1 and Challenger. They made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives and service to their country and for all mankind,'' Columbia commander Rick Husband radioed a few minutes before the airwaves went silent.
``Their dedication and devotion to the exploration of space was an inspiration to each of us and still motivates people around the world to achieve great things and service to others.''
The six Americans and one Israeli aboard Columbia marked their 13th day in space Wednesday. Their round-the-clock laboratory research mission, featuring more than 80 experiments, is due to end with a landing back at Kennedy Space Center on Saturday.
On the international space station, the two American astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut also paused to remember, and the airwaves fell silent there, too.
Challenger erupted in a fireball at 11:39 a.m., 73 seconds after liftoff. The moment of silence Tuesday ended with 10 bell chimes at Johnson Space Center in Houston, one for each the 10 astronauts killed.
The Challenger crew included Christa McAuliffe, a New Hampshire teacher who had hoped to give lessons from space. Last week, NASA announced it will hire three to six teachers for its next astronaut class.
McAuliffe's backup, Barbara Morgan, will be on Columbia's next flight, to the international space station in November. She quit her Idaho teaching job in 1998 to become a full-fledged astronaut.
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