NASA’s Kennedy Space Center will pay tribute Thursday to the astronauts who have lost their lives at its annual Day of Remembrance.
The ceremony will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 tragedy. Astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee lost their lives when a fire swept through the command module during a preflight test mission on Jan. 27, 1967. Family members of the Apollo 1 astronauts will pay tribute by placing a memorial wreath at the Space Mirror Memorial.
Crews of the Challenger and Columbia missions will also be honored. Just 73 seconds after liftoff, an explosion claimed the lives of the seven Challenger astronauts on Jan. 28, 1986. NASA lost seven explorers on Feb. 1, 2003, when the space shuttle Columbia broke apart during reentry over Texas.
“The Day of Remembrance ceremony recognizes all of the astronauts who so bravely sacrificed their lives in the name of space,” said Thad Altman, president and CEO of the Astronauts Memorial Foundation. “This year, the ceremony will take on additional meaning, as we mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 tragedy.”
The program includes speakers, videos and montages of fallen astronauts. Gen. Charlie Duke, who piloted the Lunar Module for Apollo 16, will read the names of the fallen astronauts. Flowers will be distributed to all visitors so that they can participate in honoring the astronauts.
The ceremony will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Astronauts Memorial Foundation hall, in the Center for Space Education Building at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.