NASA paid tribute to fallen astronauts and colleagues in this year's annual Day of Remembrance. Family members and colleagues of the fallen, who include members of the Apollo 1, the Challenger space shuttle, and Columbia space shuttle, joined together to celebrate those who spent their lives for the American space program.
NASA Day of Remembrance 2018
Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot, along with other NASA senior officials, led the ceremony that was held at Arlington National Cemetery in honor of the astronauts and other NASA employees who devoted their lives to exploration and discovery. A wreath-laying ceremony was held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as well as a tribute to the crew members of the Apollo 1, Columbia, and Challenger.
At the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Astronauts Memorial Foundation also conducted a memorial ceremony at the Visitor Complex. Speakers at the ceremony included Tal Ramon, son of Ilan Ramon of the space shuttle Columbia, and Beth Williams, the widow of Clifton C. Williams Jr.
Apollo 1, Columbia, And Challenger
This year's Day of Remembrance just falls a few days short of the 15th death anniversary of the seven Columbia crew members on Feb. 1. In 2003, the shuttle was just 16 minutes away from landing when a hole in one of the shuttle's wings led to the breakup of the orbiter upon reentry.
Years before, in January of 1986, the lives of all seven members of the Shuttle Challenger were also lost when a booster engine failed and caused the shuttle to break apart just 73 seconds after launch. Similarly, the members of the Apollo 1 were not yet even in space when three of them lost their lives after a fire broke out in the capsule during a prelaunch test.
Pilots Of NASA Armstrong
NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center also took the day to remember the NASA pilots who lost their lives in the service of National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), now called NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center.
Howard C. "Tick" Lilly who was the first NACA pilot to die in the line of duty, Joseph A. "Joe" Walker who made the first flight aboard the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle in 1964, and Richard E. "Dick" Gray, who flew 48 combat missions over Vietnam during his time in the Navy, were remembered and recognized by the agency.
In honor of the Day of Remembrance, the White House released a statement to honor the sacrifices that have been made throughout the years of space exploration.
"We will not forget the contributions of our great American heroes as we build on their legacy to reach vast and exciting frontiers," says the short statement.