NASA Marks 20 Years Since Space Shuttle Columbia Catastrophe

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA marked the twentieth anniversary of the area shuttle Columbia tragedy with somber ceremonies and remembrances throughout its annual tribute to fallen astronauts on Thursday.

More than 100 folks gathered underneath a grey sky at Kennedy Space Center to recollect not solely Columbia’s crew of seven, however the 18 different astronauts killed within the line of responsibility. NASA’s two shuttle accidents account for greater than half of the names carved into the black granite of the Space Mirror Memorial; aircraft crashes are in charge for the remainder.

None of the Columbia astronaut members of the family attended the morning ceremony. But Zvi Konikov, an area rabbi, recalled how Israel’s first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, requested him earlier than the flight methods to observe the Sabbath throughout two weeks in orbit with a number of sunsets a day.

“Ilan taught us a robust message. No matter how briskly we’re going, irrespective of how vital our work, we should pause and take into consideration why we’re right here on Earth, and that is what we’re doing at this time. We pause to recall the reminiscence of all these brave souls,” stated Konikov.

Columbia was destroyed throughout reentry on Feb. 1, 2003, after a chunk of fuel-tank foam got here off and punctured the left wing throughout liftoff 16 days earlier. The shuttle broke aside over Texas, simply 16 minutes from its deliberate Florida landing.

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NASA managers dismissed the affect through the flight regardless of the issues of others. That identical type of cultural blunder led to the lack of shuttle Challenger throughout liftoff on Jan. 28, 1986, killing all seven aboard, together with schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe.

The Apollo 1 launch pad hearth claimed three astronauts’ lives on Jan. 27, 1967.

Because of the clustering of those three dates, NASA units apart the final Thursday of each January to commemorate its fallen astronauts. At area facilities throughout the nation, flags have been lowered to half-staff, with ceremonies held together with spaceflight security discussions.

Like NASA’s earlier tragedies, Columbia’s loss was avoidable, stated former shuttle commander Bob Cabana, now NASA’s affiliate administrator.

“When we glance again, why do we’ve got to maintain repeating the identical exhausting classes?” he stated. “I don’t ever need to need to undergo one other Columbia.”

Besides Ramon, Columbia’s final crew included commander Rick Husband, pilot Willie McCool, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown and Laurel Clark.

A ship’s bell pealed after every of the 25 names have been learn because the ceremony drew to an in depth.

Bob and Diane Kalander interrupted their crusing journey from their residence in Jamestown, Rhode Island, to Florida’s Key West to honor the misplaced shuttle crews. Their daughter and her boyfriend joined them at Kennedy.

“It’s fading from folks’s reminiscence,” Diane Kalander stated. “There’s been a de-emphasis on area as a result of folks say, ‘Let’s fear about issues on Earth versus the long run.’ We’ve received to look towards the long run.”

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives help from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely chargeable for all content material.

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