Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Holds Remembrance Ceremony on 35th Anniversary of Challenger Disaster

Earlier today, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex played host to a somber remembrance ceremony to honor those lives who were lost in the name of discovery and exploration on the 35th anniversary of the Challenger accident.

What’s Happening:

  • Earlier today we were fortunate enough to be in attendance for NASA’s Remembrance Ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, honoring the seven lives lost 35 years ago today when the Space Shuttle Challenger suffered a cataclysmic failure moments after liftoff.
  • The bulk of the ceremony took place at the Space Mirror Memorial at the complex. NASA’s fallen heroes are honored at this monument to commemorate astronauts who gave their lives in pursuit of knowledge that lies beyond Earth. Along with the 7 who were aboard the STS-51L Challenger mission, this highly polished black granite is emblazoned with the names of 24 astronauts total, also including the crews of Apollo 1, and STS-107 Columbia. Dedicated in 1991, and created by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, the Space Mirror Memorial is designated as a national memorial on the National Register of Historic Places. Constantly illuminated, the astronaut names on this memorial are a simple reminder that space exploration can require the ultimate sacrifice.
  • The ceremony included remarks from:
    • Thad Altman, CEO, Astronauts Memorial Foundation
    • Janet Petro, Deputy Director, NASA Kennedy Space Center
    • Mike Leinbach, retired Shuttle Launch Director
    • Chief Petty Officer Joseph Stokes, U.S. Naval Sea Cadets
  • On January 28th, 1986, The Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, tragically killing the 7 crew members aboard. After an investigation, it was determined that the failure was caused by the failure of O-ring seals used in the joint that were not designed to handle the unusually cold conditions that existed at this launch. Because of that we lost 5 astronauts, and 2 payload specialists:
    • Francis “Dick” Scobee
    • Michael J. Smith
    • Ellison S. Onizuka
    • Judith A. Resnik
    • Ronald E. McNair
    • S. Christa. Mcauliffe
    • Gregory B. Jarvis
  • The Kennedy Space Center also has a permanent memorial to those lives lost on both the Challenger and the Space Shuttle Columbia in its Shuttle: A Ship Like No Other permanent exhibit that also features the Space Shuttle Atlantis on display. Called “Forever Remembered,” this exhibit displays personal items from each astronaut and a recovered section of Challenger’s left fuselage with the American flag.
  • You can watch our full video of the Remembrance Ceremony above.