NASA & SPACE NEWS: National Memorial Honoring Fallen Astronauts Commemorates 30 Years

By  //  May 9, 2021

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30th Anniversary of Space Mirror Memorial

It was a balmy morning on May 9, 1991, when close to 2,000 attendees paid their respects to fallen astronauts at the dedication of a new national memorial: the Space Mirror. The Space Mirror is more than 42 feet high and 50 feet wide. It is constructed of 90 mirror-finished granite panels and there are 80, 5-foot x 5-foot and 10 half-sized panels. Each full panel is two inches thick and weighs 500 pounds. What began as 14 etched honoree names in granite in 1991, has sadly expanded to 25.

BREVARD COUNTY • KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLORIDA – It was a balmy morning on May 9, 1991, when close to 2,000 attendees paid their respects to fallen astronauts at the dedication of a new national memorial: the Space Mirror.

Those present included honoree’s family; along with astronaut legends Alan Shepard, Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan; then former Congressman and now current NASA Administrator Bill Nelson; and Vice President Dan Quayle.

Thirty years later, the current Astronauts Memorial Foundation Chair and foundation progenitors share their memories of the organization, as well as hopes for the future of space exploration.

“My mother and I attended the dedication of the Memorial 30 years ago and I remember it as being a beautiful and emotional day,” said Chair Sheryl Chaffee, who is the first honoree family member to lead the Board of Directors.

“Since then, the Astronauts Memorial Foundation has grown to include educating students, teachers and the public about our fallen astronauts and space exploration. I am so proud of the Foundation’s achievements and confident in our continued mission success.”

Her late father is Roger B. Chaffee, Pilot One of the tragic Apollo 1 fire in 1967.

Apollo 1 Crew (L-R): Virgil I. Grissom, Edward H. White, Roger B. Chaffee (NASA Image)

Too modest to declare, himself; however, by most accounts the mastermind from concept to groundbreaking―Architect Alan Helman tenaciously championed the development of the Space Mirror Memorial, as well as the Foundation’s “living memorial,” the Center for Space Education.

“I have a sense of pride in the State of Florida,” Helman said 30 years ago.

“Without the (honoree) families and without the 450,000 Challenger tag owners, the Memorial could not have been realized.”

Helman stands by those words today and encourages continued support of the Mission to inspire our bourgeoning youth during this space renaissance.

Randy Berridge, an inaugural board member and current Advisor, said “AMF founder Alan Helman’s vision was to have a memorial to honor fallen astronauts and to have a center for space education to ‘teach the teachers.’ It is truly heartwarming to witness that that vision is alive and well!”

The Space Mirror is more than 42 feet high and 50 feet wide. It is constructed of 90 mirror-finished granite panels and there are 80, 5-foot x 5-foot and 10 half-sized panels.

Each full panel is two inches thick and weighs 500 pounds. What began as 14 etched honoree names in granite in 1991, has sadly expanded to 25.

Our astronaut heroes will forever be remembered.

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