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Gerry Blackburn of the Apollo 1 Program speaks to the attendees at the memorial for fallen astronauts. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Columbia disaster, the 32nd anniversary of the Challenger disaster, and 51st anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire.
By Tammye McDuff
The Columbia Memorial Space Center [CMSC] held an Astronaut Commemoration on Saturday, January 27th, honoring the astronauts of the Challenger, Columbia, and Apollo I, all of whom were lost in accidents.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Columbia disaster on February 1, 2003; the 32nd anniversary of the Challenger on January 28, 1986 and 51st anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire on January 27, 1967. All three NASA tragedies happened within the same week, and in memory CMSC held a special program that included an engineer who worked on the Apollo program.
“I think it is important that we remember these missions,” said Executive Director Ben Dickow, “Each one had a very strong thread about education, inspiration and opportunity running through it. That is what we try to do here.” He went on to say that we are always looking forward, “Many of the young people here today, could be the next astronauts on a Mission to Mars. As much as today is one of remembrance, it is also one of the future.” A brief moment of silence was held in tribute of the three disasters.
The CMSC site is the national memorial to the Columbia Shuttle. A special exhibit is on display feature photos and bios of each astronaut as well as newspaper headlines, special books and memorabilia. “As NASA’s official memorial to the Columbia shuttle and crew, CMSC is the appropriate place for these commemoration events,” adds Dickow.
Special speaker Gerry Blackburn, worked on Apollo program,” I remember astronauts saying they wanted the space projects to continue, and in their memory we need to cherish that.” The term derives from the Greek words ástron meaning “star”, and nautes meaning “sailor”. “Every one of these individuals were star sailors,” says Blackburn, “They took the road less traveled and paid the ultimate sacrifice to sail the stars.”
The Space Center opens at 10am. Admission to the Center was free, as part of its participation in SoCal Museum Free Day. The first 10 CMSC members received a commemorative coin.
For more information about the Columbia Memorial Space Center, please call (562) 231-1200 or visit www.columbiaspacescience.org. The Columbia Memorial Space Center is located at 12400 Columbia Way, in Downey.