On 35th anniversary of Challenger disaster, NASA pays tribute to lost crew
NASA annual Day of Remembrance to pay virtual tribute to the crews of Apollo 1, Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia. Today is the 35th anniversary of the Shuttle Challenger disaster.
I now is the way true line Love is reverted flows Love is the arms that are called you on. Love is place you will fly to Because love never fails. You okay? Thank you, Brandon. It's not my honor to introduce astronaut John McBride. Jon McBride is been very active nationally. Former president of the Association of Space Explorers. He works here with the astronaut program here. Uh, can you Space center visitor complex. Former chairman of the Astronaut Memorial Foundation. John, what did you say? Thank you, folks, for all the beautiful music, it's really enhancement for the whole show. I, uh I looked around. We missed one astronaut. I could first and only Brazilian came all the way. Appear to be was today, Marcos. Pontus. Thank you, sir. Exactly 30 years ago, almost to this minute, I and my crew are someone's out of the shuttle training facility. The are motion based simulator to come up and watch the launch on, obviously, about five minutes after we got there, our whole lives changed. Uh huh. We lost that challenging seven wonderful people. We're I'm going to have the honor of reading the names of all of our 24 Fallen comrades up on the mirror. Too bad we're not out there today. Mother Nature didn't cooperate too much with the weather. But if you would please lower your heads for a few moments and is I read these names sent him a little bit up. Positive energy, if you would. Theodore C. Freeman, Charles A. Bassett The Second Elliot M. C. Junior Clifton See Williams Jr. Virgil Gusts Grissom, Edward H. White The second. Roger Be Chafee, Michael Jay Adams, Robert H. Lawrence Jr. Francis Dick Scobee, Michael J. Smith Judith A. Resnik Ellison, ISS Onizuka Ronald E. McNair Gregory B. Jarvis Is Krista McAuliffe Manly L. Sonny Carter Jr. Rick The Husband William See McCool, Michael P. Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David M. Brown, Lower Clark My friend from Israel, Ellen Bremen Thank you very much. You know, I great honor of this job is meeting and get to know a lot of astronauts. And one thing that I've found that so unique is their compassion for each other and for society, their ability to love. I guess that makes sense if you're going to send 456 crew members to Mars on a two on admission to and after your mission you gotta get You gotta be able to get along with people, don't you? And love people It's a very, very special group Very special group like Thio again Recognize voices of liberty that will perform oh, America Spread your golden way Sailor Freedoms Way and cross the sky I great bird with your dream, You restless one A world of change Keeping dreams of loved in the rain spirit Free Sorry, booth America Are you still dream? No dreaming a promise. No, your pie America Keep on lying now Keep your spirit free Facing front America Spread your way Creed with tree Flying E 00 So NASA's Project Gemini is often referred to as the bridge to the moon. Expand the period between Project Mercury, America's first efforts to determine if humans could survive in space and the Apollo lunar landing flights. Gemini demonstrated that astronauts could change their capsule's orbit, remain in space for at least two weeks and work outside their spacecraft. They also pioneered docking with other spacecraft. All were essential skills to land on the moon and returned safely to earth. Astronauts for the Gemini program were pulled from the first three groups of astronauts, which were selected between 1959 and 1963 and totaled 30 men. These included Elliot C. Born on July 23rd, 1927 in Dallas, Texas Air Force captain Charles Bassett, born on December 30th 1931 in Dayton, Ohio, and Marine Corps major Clifton Curtis Williams. Born on September 26 1932 in Mobile, Alabama, Elliot C. Was selected to serve as a backup crew member for the Gemini five mission alongside Neil Armstrong. During this mission, a heater for the spacecraft fuel cells failed to function properly, causing a crippling shortage. Electrical power flight director Chris Craft was ready to end the mission, however, see who had expertise in fuel cells convinced craft to give him 24 hours to develop a solution. He and Armstrong worked around the clock and were able to solve the issue, allowing the nation to continue, Armstrong stated. He really worked hard on Gemini five. He had good ideas and express them see along with Charles. Bassett was selected to serve as a pilot on Gemini nine. Bassett was assigned to the training and simulation as well as managing of operational handbooks, fellow astronaut Walt Cunningham wrote of him. What impressed me most about Charlie was his self discipline. He was wound tight, dedicated and had fine mechanical skills and undoubtedly would have made an excellent space pilot. Bastard was unofficially informed that he was in line for one of the early lunar landing missions following the completion of Gemini nine. Unfortunately, both SEA and Bassett perished while training for this mission when their T 38 plane crashed on February 28th, 1966 in route to the McDonnell Douglas Plan, located in ST Louis, Missouri, Clifton Curtis Williams was selected as a backup crew member for Gemini 10 and worked in the areas of launch operations and crew safety, 1966. Williams was informed that he had been assigned as a lunar module crew pilot for a future Apollo mission. He died on October 5th, 1967 prior to this mission while flying 80 38 aircraft over Tallahassee, Florida Although he never made it to the moon, his brother indicated that astronaut Alan Bean, who replaced Williams on the Apollo crew, took a set of pilot wings and a war eagle statue on his trip to the moon toe honor the memory of the fallen astronaut. 1959 NASA partnered with the Air Force, the Navy and North American Aviation Incorporated to run the first test flights of the X 15 hypersonic research program. The aircraft flew over a period of nearly 10 years and set the world's unofficial speed and altitude records at that time. Information gained from the highly successful X 15 program contributed to the development of the Mercury Gemini and Apollo piloted spaceflight programs as well as the space shuttle program. One of the programs most prolific pilots was Air Force Major Michael Adams. After flying 49 combat missions in the Korean War, he completed Test pilot School and Aerospace Research School. Adams was then assigned to work on NASA's Lunar Landing Vehicle program. This led him to apply for the manned orbiting laboratory. He made seven flights in the X 15 aircraft and eventually reached zero G or weightlessness. His top altitude during these flights was a step is a standard in Colombia were humbled as we recall the sacrifices of these brave men and women who gave their lives for the broader cause of exploring and understanding our universe. Losses of this magnitude redefine the future. We don't accept them as a natural part of this business. Each year this time we commit to not only remembering their lives and legacies but to dedicate ourselves to ensuring the safety of those who are coming in the future. This year we will be launching astronaut crews on new vehicles. And many in our workforce today did not have firsthand experiences with these tragedies. So today serves as a reflection point where we pause and we share the lessons of the past. With our workforce, each tragedy involving the life permanently changed NASA. And each anniversary is an opportunity to reflect with gratitude on the lives that were honorably given in pursuit of the goal to explore, learn and to discover. And as we celebrate this new era of human space flight and the return toe launching astronauts from our coast, we stand firmly committed to the protection of those bold enough to go on behalf of our community and all of humanity. So thank you again for joining us today in this remembrance in this sacred ceremony. Thank you. Yeah. Thank you, Janet. Thank you. for the wonderful relationship partnership that we share with NASA and for their dedication to remembering our fallen heroes. Like to next. Introduce Mike Leinbach, who is a ah board member with the Astronaut Memorial Foundation. But he also is retired space shuttle space shuttle launch director Mr Line. But thank you, Dad. It's extreme honor to be a board member of That's not Memorial Foundation. That's truly a highlight of my career. Thank you very much. A zai stand under this beautiful memorial. I'd like to share some personal thoughts with you. I was asked to do that as a member of the launch team and is a member of the Kennedy Space Center. Maybe bring it back a little bit. Thio home to the people that worked on these beautiful vehicles and and sent them into space. First of all, 35 years ago. Young engineer, standing on the deck of the mobile launch platform over by the Vehicle assembly and watch challenge Lift off beautiful cold morning. But tragedy, of course, hit very soon after lift off. Witnessing that event stayed with me in my entire career. Never do we all remember where we were when challenger lifted off. I was just an entry level engineer here, Casey, and knew the astronauts only by name and from TV. 17 years later, I was standing beside the runway waiting for Colombia to come home from her mission, and she simply didn't come home. I'll never forget the the feeling there of one of complete emptiness as we waited for Columbia didn't come home. Watch the families Get out, Get out of the stands. It was just a nawf a lawful moment. I was the shuttle launch director for Columbia at the time. This time they were my friends and I was theirs. So today I'd like to talk about the astronauts and some of the folks at KFC as we move forward. First course, I think about the astronauts forever remembered here. I think about my friends and those I never met. I knew some of the astronauts. I didn't know them all, of course, but I think about how diverse they were as a group of people, different nationalities, races, genders, different faiths and beliefs. At the same time, I think about the one thing they all had in common, and I ask you all to think about this with me. These were These were men and women, ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They had Children. They had mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. These are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They were cut short. They had a love of life that was cut short as well. They did daily chores. They represented their countries to the rest of the world. These men and women were about to take the ultimate risk for the benefit of everyone. It was a fact. I always try to remember the rest of my career, especially on launch day. These ordinary people doing extraordinary things left their families so empty we owe the families so much. Cheryl, Thank you. Another thought comes to mind a zai stand here in front of this, uh, mirror, which I've done quite a bit over the last year or so before the pandemic. Anyway, I was giving tours at the Atlantis building, and I'd stop by here at least once a month and just reflect on on the astronauts and what they went through and what the country has been through and really the world. And I always think about the people here at the Kennedy space center and indeed, around the around the country who worked on the space shuttle? Another another space vehicles? Um, not just here, Casey, but all the other centers and all the contractor organizations, the people that thought about did I do my job right? On the day that we lost Challenger in Colombia, Apollo one, the astronauts put their lives in line, trusting thousands of people they barely knew or knew or knew. Not at all. These people put their heart and soul into working on the vehicles, and they lost their friends. Their associates in their space vehicles, has a career long employee. I know how much the entire workforce here and and, as I say around the around the country cared so much for the astronauts and put their heart and soul into working on these vehicles. To do the job is best they could. And the astronauts, mindful of of what it meant to be a true team, would come to the Kennedy Space Center, walk around, talk to people, thank them for the work that they do and they wouldn't talk. The astronauts wouldn't talk about themselves. They talk, they talk to the folks about their families about their kids. Maybe they'd go out for lunch or or uh, to a local beer joint after work and just gather and have have friendship Onda fellowship. They would share their stories. Those were the times I miss the most. I believe times just interacting with the astronauts because they were real people. And we should never forget that. And that fact never left May nor will leave any any member of the launch team or any member of the Kennedy Space Center. We were working on their behalf. We tried all we could to bring to bring them home safely every time. Excuse me. Uh huh. Kind of awkward. We would all watch as they launched As their missions unfolded, we waited for the missions down safely. They're back here, out in California from the technician, turning the proverbial bolt on the spacecraft to safety professionals, engineers, managers all, like all of us would never celebrate until the astronauts were home safely reunite of their loved ones. So the astronauts in the in the workforce, they're all just ordinary people working together, doing extraordinary things on behalf of the country in the world. It was our job in profession, but so very much more than that. It was our passion, passion of the astronauts, passion of the workforce. So as I stand here and reflect on the astronauts and the good folks of Casey and around the country, I have but one wish. I wish we will never have to add another name to this wall. To this mirror. It's plenty full. It's already too full. Thank you. I'm good, Katalin. Thank you, Mike. It was nearly at this moment this very, very moment as we sit here 35 years ago, hundreds of thousands of people across the Space Coast lining our beaches and their backyards. Workers here, a k c. We're watching the countdown, and in just a few minutes we will have that 35 year anniversary. And we saw that horrific, horrific, tragic event. And we had millions. Tens of millions of people across the globe watching and millions of school Children watching the first teacher, the first civilian to be launched in space. And that's a so appropriately chose a teacher. Teachers that reach out inspire our youth, and they all witnessed a life changing experience. Perhaps no other generation had such an intimate experience with such a tragic and life changing moment as these Children and what was born out of that was a generation dedicated to human spaceflight. What inspires me are the family members, the biggest proponents and advocates for maintaining spaceflight in human exploration. Are those families those families who have, who paid the ultimate sacrifice, losing a loved one? And that's inspiring to all of us. So as we remember our astronauts and we have the tolling of the Bells ceremony, we hear of the Kennedy Space Center at this point in time at this place 35 years later. Well, remember the astronauts of the space shuttle Challenger a swell as all the astronauts on our board on the wall who have sacrificed her life for spaceflight? I will recite the names. Yeah, Theodore C. Freeman, Charles A. Bassett. The second been William C. McCool, Michael P. Anderson, Captain A. Shuala, David M. Brown, Laurel Clark, Ellen Ramon, Michael T. Alsbury Oh, and now we will place a wreath at the base of the memorial to honor those who sacrificed their lives in the pursuit of space exploration, followed by one minute of silence. It's Thank you so much. Thank you for your presence here today. And thank you. For those who are watching as NASA streams on their Facebook live, this concludes this morning ceremony. You may now pay your respects by entering the ramp Single file asking everyone to socially distance as much as you possibly can to place your flower that you have in your possession here on the memorial fence. It's a tradition that we have every year here. The Astronaut Memorial Foundation for the NASA Day of Remembrance. Once you place your flower, who asked you toe single file Socially distance. Oh, the part down the east rap again. Thank you. Thank you for attending this year's day of Remembrance. We're blessed to have had that, you know, with given the pandemic. We were concerned. But we were committed to having this year in front of the memorial. And thank you for joining us. Mm. Mhm. How can wait find words been love your most re find over and over. What went wrong? Just remember her. Stay. Be strong when you're just 60. No, With us, you are never so you start E e e. You promised