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NASA observes Day of Remembrance ahead of Columbia 20th Anniversary

The agency will honour members of the NASA family who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery, including the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, leading up to, and during, the agency's annual Day of Remembrance Thursday, Jan. 26. This year’s NASA Day of Remembrance precedes the 20th anniversary of the Columbia accident on Wednesday, Feb. 1.

A lei is seen on the Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial after a ceremony that was part of NASA's Day of Remembrance, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. Wreaths were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration. Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, and Associate Administrator Bob Cabana will host a town hall at the agency’s headquarters in Washington at 12:30 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Jan. 24. The trio will host a dialogue with employees about the invaluable lessons learned over the decades and the importance of a strong safety culture. The town hall will stream live on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

On Jan. 26, Nelson will lead an observance at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, which will begin with a traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, followed by observances for the Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia crews at 1 p.m. EST. The administrator also will send an agencywide message to employees.

“NASA’s Day of Remembrance is about pausing, remembering, and uplifting the legacies of the NASA family who gave their lives to advance the cause of discovery. While this will always be solemn day, it’s also one of gratitude. We are thankful that NASA’s adventurers shared their lives with us and made life better on Earth,” said Nelson. “As we continue to expand humanity’s reach in this new era of exploration, we must always embrace NASA’s core value of safety.”

Additional various agency centers also will hold observances for NASA Day of Remembrance.

Johnson Space Center, Houston

NASA Johnson will hold a commemoration at the Astronaut Memorial Grove at 10 a.m. CST. The ceremony will include remarks by NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy and Johnson Center Director Vanessa Wyche. This event will feature a NASA T-38 flyover and taps performed by the Texas A&M Squadron 17.

In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Columbia’s STS-107 mission, Johnson also will host an employee panel discussion called, Perspectives of STS-107 Lessons Applied to Artemis. Moderated by Johnson’s Flight Operations Directorate EVA Training and Operations Engineer Grier Wilt, senior leaders in the Johnson-based Artemis programs – Orion, Extravehicular Activity, and Human Surface Mobility, Gateway, and Human Research – will discuss lessons learned from the STS-107 Columbia tragedy and the impact on human spaceflight development and operations.

Kennedy Space Center, Florida

NASA Kennedy, in partnership with The Astronauts Memorial Foundation, will host a Day of Remembrance ceremony at the Space Mirror Memorial at Kennedy’s Visitor Complex at 10 a.m. EST. The ceremony will include remarks by Astronauts Memorial Foundation President and CEO Thad Altman and Kennedy’s Center Director Janet Petro. NASA Associate Administrator Bob Cabana also will provide remarks during the ceremony, which will livestream on Kennedy’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Ames Research Center, California

NASA Ames will hold a remembrance ceremony that includes remarks from Ames’ Center Director Dr. Eugene Tu, a moment of silence, and bell ring commemoration.

Glenn Research Center, Cleveland

NASA Glenn will observe Day of Remembrance with remarks from Glenn’s Associate Director Larry Sivic, followed by a panel discussion on safety with aeronautics and spaceflight experts at Lewis Field.

Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

NASA Langley will hold a remembrance ceremony followed by placing flags at the Langley Workers Memorial.

Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama

NASA Marshall will hold a candle-lighting ceremony and wreath placement. The ceremony will include remarks from Marshall Center Director Jody Singer, Bill Hill, director of Marshall’s Office of Safety and Mission Assurance, and NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins.

Stennis Space Flight Center, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

NASA Stennis will hold a wreath-laying ceremony with remarks from Stennis’ Associate Director Rodney McKellip and NASA Shared Services Center Operations Director Nikki Tubbs.

NASA locations featuring special Day of Remembrance messages to employees include: NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California; Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia; the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Facility in Fairmont, West Virginia; and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in southern California.


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