NASA marked the 20th anniversary of the space shuttle Columbia tragedy with somber ceremonies and remembrances during its annual tribute to fallen astronauts on Thursday.
More than 100 people gathered under a gray sky at Kennedy Space Center to remember not only Columbia’s crew of seven, but the 18 other astronauts killed in the line of duty. NASA’s two shuttle accidents account for more than half of the names carved into the black granite of the Space Mirror Memorial; plane crashes are to blame for the rest.
None of the Columbia astronaut family members attended the morning ceremony. But Zvi Konikov, a local rabbi, recalled how Israel’s first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, asked him before the flight how to observe the Sabbath during two weeks in orbit with multiple sunsets a day.
“Ilan taught us a powerful message. No matter how fast we’re going, no matter how important our work, we must pause and think about why we’re here on Earth, and that’s what we’re doing today. We pause to recall the memory of all those courageous souls,” said Konikov.
Columbia was destroyed during reentry on Feb. 1, 2003, after a piece of fuel-tank foam came off and punctured the left wing during liftoff 16 days earlier. The shuttle broke apart over Texas, just 16 minutes from its planned Florida touchdown.
Article URL : https://wpde.com/news/nation-world/nasa-marks-20-years-since-space-shuttle-columbia-disaster-01-28-2023