Each year, at the end of January or the beginning of February, NASA marks a Day of Remembrance to honor those who gave their lives as part of the manned space program.
This year, 2021, the Day of Remembrance is set for Jan. 28.
Every year, the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, in collaboration with NASA, hosts the NASA Day of Remembrance Ceremony at the Center for Space Education at Kennedy Space Center. The Day of Remembrance is observed across the country with ceremonies at each major space center.
This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, ceremonies and observances will be different. Please check with your local NASA center for information and details of local observances.
Jan. 27, 1967: During a simulation aboard the Apollo spacecraft on the launchpad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a flash fire ignited in the pure oxygen atmosphere of the capsule, killing astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee. It was the first fatal accident directly attributed to the U.S. space program, and it led to a redesign of the spacecraft. The Apollo mission of sending astronauts to the moon was resumed in October 1968.
Jan. 28, 1986: During a launch viewed by millions of people around the world, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, killing all seven members of its crew — Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Judith A. Resnik, Ronald E. McNair, Ellison S. Onizuka, Gregory B. Jarvis, and teacher Christa McAuliffe. The explosion occurred 73 seconds into the flight because of a leak in one of the rocket boosters that ignited the main liquid fuel tank. Following the tragedy, the shuttle program was suspended until September 1988.
Feb. 1, 2003: The Space Shuttle Columbia, returning from mission STS-107, broke apart during reentry, killing all seven astronauts onboard. The crew were mission specialist David Brown, commander Rick Husband, mission specialist Laurel Clark, mission specialist Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist Michael Anderson, pilot William McCool, and Israeli payload specialist Ilan Ramon.