Memorial Patch Honors Lost Astronauts

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Jan. 27, Jan. 28 and Feb. 1 mark painful anniversaries for the human spaceflight community.

Those are the days when terrible accidents claimed the lives of the astronauts of Apollo 1, Challenger 51-L, and Columbia 107.

A memorial patch was created by scenic/graphic designer Michael Okuda, who has worked extensively with NASA as well as the “Star Trek” franchise, and ground control officer William Foster. It features images of the two shuttles and the Apollo spacecraft with stars representing the 17 lives lost.

The inscription reads, “Ad Astra Per Aspera — Semper Exploro.” Okuda explained, “The patch has two mottos. The first translates as ‘the difficult road to the stars.’ I borrowed that from a commemorative plaque at the Apollo 1 launch site. The second means ‘always exploring,’ and was suggested by astronaut Ken Ham.”

This emblem hangs on the wall of Mission Control in Houston, next to the mission patches for the three crews.

For his designs of many NASA mission patches and logos, Okuda received the NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal in 2009. He is also known for his work on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Deep Space Nine,” “Voyager” and “Enterprise,” and the remastering of the original “Star Trek.”

Every year, NASA designates a Day of Remembrance to commemorate the following dates:

On Jan. 27, 1967, astronauts Virgil Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee died when fire swept through the Apollo 1 command module during a rehearsal for their mission, which was scheduled for Feb. 21.

On Jan. 28, 1986, the Challenger was destroyed in an explosion about 73 seconds after liftoff. The crew consisted of Francis Scobee, Michael Smith, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair, Judith Resnik, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe (from the Teacher in Space program).

On Feb. 1, 2003, the Columbia, which had been launched on Jan. 16, was destroyed during re-entry. The crew consisted of Rick Husband, William McCool, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Michael Anderson, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon.

This year’s observance is on Feb. 1. For more information, visit www.nasa.gov.

To purchase the patch, click here.

To visit Michael and Denise Okuda on Facebook, click here.

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