NASA Honors Kalpana Chawla Including Fallen Astronauts on Annual Day of Remembrance

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NASA Honors Kalpana Chawla: On Annual Day of Remembrance, NASA honors seven astronauts which includes the first Indian woman astronaut. On Feb. 1, 2003, when Columbia shattered in the skies over Texas, the seven astronauts died. NASA held its annual day of remembrance Thursday to honor all its astronauts killed in the line of duty over the decades.

Seventeen died in three accidents: the shuttle Columbia disintegration on Feb. 1, 2003, the Apollo 1 rocket fire on the launch pad on Jan. 27, 1967, and the shuttle Challenger launch disaster on Jan. 28, 1986. The seven others died in plane crashes during training or other official business. For those killed aboard shuttle Columbia, NASA held a special musical tribute Thursday by the son of Israel’s first astronaut.

At Kennedy Space Center, many gathered to remember the Columbia crew killed in the line of duty over the decades. NASA also took to its twitter page and posted that, “Seven hills where NASA’s rover Spirit spent several years exploring the Martian terrain are named in remembrance of the final crew of Space Shuttle Columbia.”

A piece of foam, falling from the external tank during launch, had opened a hole in one of the shuttle’s wings, leading to the breakup of the orbiter upon re-entry. The incident happened just minutes before a Florida touchdown.

NASA’s acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, led observances at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, where several of these astronauts are buried. At Kennedy, NASA’s first female space shuttle commander, Eileen Collins, now retired and board chairman of the Astronauts Memorial Foundation , noted next Wednesday will mark the 60th anniversary of the liftoff of America’s first satellite.

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