Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to Host Annual NASA Day of Remembrance Jan. 26

By  //  January 22, 2017

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honors astronauts who sacrificed their lives

SPACE SHUTTLE CHALLENGER STS-51-L crew: (front row) Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair; (back row) Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik. (NASA image)

BREVARD COUNTY • KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLORIDA – The Astronauts Memorial Foundation’s annual NASA Day of Remembrance will this year commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 tragedy, and will be held on January 26 at 10 a.m. at the Astronauts Memorial Foundation hall, located in the Center for Space Education Building at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

The ceremony will also honor the crews of the Challenger and Colombia missions as well as all astronauts who have sacrificed their lives furthering the cause of space exploration and discovery.

A wreath laying ceremony will follow the commemoration onsite, at the Space Mirror Memorial; attendees will be provided with flowers so they can also take part in paying respects to the departed heroes.

“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 chief executive officer 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.”

Grissom, White, and Chaffee pose in front of their Apollo 1 space vehicle on the launch pad on January 17, 1967, ten days before the fatal fire. (NASA image)

ABOVE VIDEO: At a press conference the day after the January 27, 1967, Apollo 1 accident, a NASA spokesperson explains the cause of the flash fire that broke out inside the cabin of the spacecraft during a launch pad test. The vehicle was being prepared for the first piloted space flight. The tragedy ended in the deaths of all three astronauts on board: Lt. Col. Virgil I. Grissom, Lt. Col. Edward H. White and Roger B. Chaffee.

Tragedy struck the Apollo program on January 27, 1967, when a flash fire occurred in the command module during a launch pad test of the Apollo/Scharlaturn space vehicle.

Three astronauts, Lt. Col. Virgil I. Grissom, a veteran of the Mercury and Gemini missions; Lt. Col. Edward H. White, the astronaut who performed the United States’ extravehicular activity during the Gemini program; and Robert B. Chaffee, an astronaut preparing for his first space flight, lost their lives in the accident.

The AS-204 mission, which was to be the vehicle’s first piloted flight, was re-designated Apollo 1 in honor of the crew.

Speakers at the ceremony will include Thad Altman, president and chief executive officer of the Astronauts Memorial Foundation; former Apollo astronaut and retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael Collins; Sheryl Chaffee, daughter of fallen Apollo 1 astronaut Roger Chaffee; John Tribe, Apollo launch team member; Robert Lightfoot, acting administrator, NASA Headquarters and Retired U.S. Marine Corps. Col. and Director of NASA Kennedy Space Center Robert Cabana, who also is a former astronaut. An invocation will be led by retired U.S. Airforce Brig. Gen. Charlie Duke and the DeLaura Middle School Vocal Ensemble will perform the national anthem. Viera High School JROTC will present the colors. The reading of the names of all fallen astronauts will be led by Gen. Charlie Duke, who also is a former astronaut, having served as Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 16.

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The ceremony will be broadcast live on NASA TV.

The 2017 Day of Remembrance also will memorialize the crew of the Challenger. On January 28, 1986, at 73 seconds after liftoff, an explosion claimed the lives of the Challenger crew and the vehicle.

The cause was determined to be an O-ring failure in the right solid rocket booster. The crew of space shuttle Columbia will also be remembered during the ceremony. NASA and the world lost seven brave explorers on February 1, 2003, when the space shuttle Columbia broke apart during reentry over portions of the state of Texas.

The public is invited to attend the Day of Remembrance. For more information, visit

Crew of Space Shuttle Columbia STS-107: Left to right – David Brown, Rick Husband, Laurel Clark, Kalpana Chawla, Michael Anderson, William McCool and lan Ramon. (NASA image)