NASA Honors Its Fallen Heroes, Marks 15th Anniversary of Columbia Accident

NASA's annual Day of Remembrance will take place on Thursday, January 25, and will honor those who have sacrificed their lives while furthering the cause of space exploration.
By | Published: January 23, 2018 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
The official crew photograph from Space Shuttle Columbia‘s final, ill-fated mission. From left to right are 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. All of those aboard Columbia were killed when the shuttle broke up over Texas in 2003.
NASA will pay will tribute to the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, as well as other NASA colleagues who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery, during the agency’s annual Day of Remembrance on Thursday, Jan. 25.

NASA acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot, and other agency senior officials, will lead an observance at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia starting at 10:25 a.m. EST. A wreath-laying ceremony will be held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, followed by observances for the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia crews. Media interested in attending the remembrance event must contact Arlington National Cemetery media relations officer Kerry Meeker at or 703-614-0024 no later than Wednesday, Jan. 24.

Various NASA centers also will hold observances on and leading up to the Day of Remembrance for the public, employees and the families of those lost in service to America’s space program, including Johnson Space Center in Houston and Marshall Space Flight Center, in Huntsville, Alabama.

Kennedy Space Center, Florida

The Astronauts Memorial Foundation will honor the astronauts who gave their lives for space exploration during a ceremony Jan. 25 at the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, located at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Speakers at the ceremony will include:

Thad Altman, president and chief executive officer of the Astronauts Memorial Foundation
Robert Cabana, Kennedy center director
Eileen Collins, former space shuttle astronaut
Karen Stevenson, daughter of Charles A. Bassett II
Sally Kneuven, daughter of Elliot M. See Jr.
Beth Williams, widow of Clifton C. Williams Jr.
Brent Adams, son of Michael J. Adams
Tal Ramon, son of Ilan Ramon

Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot speaks to NASA personnel and others during a wreath laying ceremony at the Space Shuttle Challenger and Space Shuttle Columbia Memorials as part of NASA’s Day of Remembrance, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The wreaths were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration.
NASA/Joel Kowsky
Media interested in attending this event should contact Rebecca Shireman at 321-449-4273 or

Video and still images of various agency observances will be available at:

The agency also is paying tribute to its fallen astronauts with special online content available Wednesday, Jan. 24, at:

Images and multimedia from this year’s events will be added following the events.