NASA will salute its fallen heroes including the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia at a ceremony to be held Tuesday, Jan. 31 on the Day of Remembrance.
On the day, at Virginia's Arlington National Cemetery NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot and senior officials will lay the wreath and hold an observance at 11 a.m. EST.
Similar events will be held at various NASA centers honoring the employees and the families of those lost in the cause of the space agency's programs.
Apollo 1 Commemoration
The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 tragedy will be commemorated at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26. To be held at the Astronauts Memorial Foundation hall in the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, it will be telecast live on NASA Television and the website.
The tributes will recall the three NASA tragedies in a span of three decades. The Apollo 1 tragedy of Jan. 27, 1967 was a fire accident as the module of the spacecraft caught fire and killed astronauts Ed White, Gus Grissom, and Roger Chaffee.
They were working on a launch pad test at in Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The Challenger exploded shortly after its launch on Jan 28, 1986, and mission commander Francis Dick Scobee and others lost lives.
A probe revealed that Challenger was failed by an "O-ring" seal on the shuttle's solid rocket booster by an accidental hardening.
Columbia splintered into pieces when it was re-entering the Earth's atmosphere on Feb. 1, 2003, under a fatal snag. A damage in the insulating foam during the shuttle's launch led to hot atmospheric gases entering the wing's interior. The mishap killed seven astronauts.
Meanwhile, NASA is readying for a different kind of rocket launch for exploring mysteries like Earth's auroras.
The rockets will zoom into the Earth's upper atmosphere to study the magnetic environment of Earth and examine a slew of phenomena including auroras and solar winds in the near-Earth space, NASA said.
The missions are expected to reveal more about the planet and broaden understanding of the low-Earth orbit environment.
The first mission will focus on nitric oxide, NASA said. The launch window for PolarNOx mission will be open from Jan. 19 to Jan. 31. The rockets will study Earth's atmosphere in the polar region and try to measure the nitric oxide formed during the northern lights.
Meanwhile, the Baker Institute for Public Policy has unveiled a paper for NASA urging it to reestablish a human spaceflight program.
The mention in President Trump's inaugural address of "mysteries of space" is indicative that NASA will be part of the administration's reformatory plans.
The policy agenda for NASA was written by George W. S. Abbey. Titled "Why NASA Should Change Its Present Course," the paper by Abbey outlines the case of NASA needing to concentrate on a human spaceflight in keeping with the agency's reputation and a hefty budget.