Friday, January 27, 2012

The Fallen


The end of January and beginning of February is always a solemn occasion for the space industry, in that three major NASA tragedies all occurred in different years but in the same week, and it’s important to remember the contributions of the astronauts who risked their lives for our efforts in space exploration:

January 27, 1967... Apollo 1 lost
January 28, 1986... Challenger STS-51L lost
February 1, 2003... Columbia STS-107 lost

Shuttle Challenger Memorial
Houston, Texas

"They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. We've grown used to wonders in this century. It's hard to dazzle us. We've grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps we forget we've only just begun. We're still pioneers.

And I want to say to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the coverage of the shuttle's takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery. The future doesn't belong to the faint-hearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them.

I've always had great respect for our space program, and what happened today does nothing to diminish it. We'll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights, more crews and, yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and journeys continue. I wish I could talk to every man and woman who works for NASA and tell them: "Your dedication and professionalism have moved and impressed us for decades. And we know of your anguish. We share it."

~ President Ronald Reagan
January 28, 1986

Challenger Memorial Park
Challenger Memorial Park
(Click for entire Gallery)

"In an age when space flight has come to seem almost routine, it is easy to overlook the dangers of travel by rocket, and the difficulties of navigating the fierce outer atmosphere of the Earth. These astronauts knew the dangers, and they faced them willingly, knowing they had a high and noble purpose in life. Because of their courage, and daring, and idealism, we will miss them all the more.

All Americans today are thinking, as well, of the families of these men and women who have been given this sudden shock and grief. You're not alone. Our entire nation grieves with you. And those you loved will always have the respect and gratitude of this country. The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand.

Our journey into space will go on."

~ President George W. Bush
February 1, 2003

Shuttle Columbia Memorial
Columbia Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery

Please take a moment of silence today to remember all those pioneers who have given their lives to science and space exploration. See for a complete list of all fallen astronauts and cosmonauts.