NASA Postpones Day of Remembrance for Fallen Astronauts

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Members of the Challenger crew (from right) Ellison Onizuka, Michael Smith, Ronald McNair, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Gregory Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe.

NASA’s day dedicated to fallen astronauts, scheduled for Jan. 31, has been postponed due to the government shutdown, according to a Jan. 23 tweet from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

“NASA’s annual Day of Remembrance reminds us to reflect on not just the sacrifices that have been made by our fallen family, friends, and co-workers, but also to remind us of our core values of safety, integrity, and teamwork as we carry out our history-making missions,” Bridenstine said.

“Unfortunately, most of our NASA family are on furlough and we recognize that participation in many of the Day of Remembrance activities would be a challenge. As a result, we have decided to delay our observance until the NASA family is able to come together to remember our fallen astronauts and those who have given their life in pursuit of exploration.

“An updated time for our commemoration has not yet been selected, but we will make this a priority once the furlough is over and everyone is back at work.”

Federal employees returned to work on Monday following an agreement between President Trump and congressional leaders to temporarily restore government funding. The two sides have three weeks to reach a compromise. Trump is insisting on billions for his border wall, a project that the Democrats oppose.

The Day of Remembrance observes the anniversaries of three disasters that cost a total of 17 lives:

• The Apollo 1 fire, which occurred during a test on Jan. 27, 1967, claiming the lives of Roger Chafee, Gus Grissom and Ed White.

• The explosion of the space shuttle Challenger shortly after liftoff on Jan. 28, 1986. Seven crew members — Gregory Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Francis Scobee and Michael Smith — were lost. Onizuka, a native of Hawaii and a Buddhist, became the first Asian American in space during a previous shuttle mission.

In a tweet on Monday, Bridenstine quoted President Ronald Reagan: “The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them.”

• The breakup of the shuttle Columbia during re-entry on Feb. 1, 2003. On board were Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, Rick Husband, William McCool and Ilan Ramon.

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