NASA’s Day of Remembrance is observed annually on the last Thursday of January and this year will be marked on January 25. This day is organized by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (N.A.S.A), a body responsible for managing U.S. space research and other activities. Space exploration is perilous, yet scientists and astronauts accept this challenge bravely. This day commemorates the members of the N.A.S.A. family who gave up their lives to advance the cause of space discovery. These include the crew members of the space missions Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia. This year, the NASA Day of Remembrance also commemorates the tragedy of Apollo 1, which occurred 55 years ago.
History of NASA's Day of Remembrance
N.A.S.A. has always shown a deep concern and respect for fateful events such as the Apollo 1 fire, the space shuttle Challenger disaster, and the like. Early commemorations focused on jubilee anniversaries or milestone years. On the first anniversary of the Challenger disaster in January 1987, a National Day of Excellence was announced by Congress under Public Law 99-478, which was signed by then-President Ronald Reagan. The Space Mirror Memorial was established at Kennedy Space Center on its fifth anniversary. Its tenth memorial observance was held at both Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Local N.A.S.A. centers and communities also organized commemorations across the U.S. Around 18 years ago, on the first anniversary of the space shuttle Columbia’s mishap, the space organization altered its approach and introduced the agency’s annual Day of Remembrance. Three separate tragedieS — the Apollo 1 test capsule fire in 1967, the Challenger space shuttle explosion minutes after take-off in 1986, and the Columbia space shuttle failure during re-entry in 2003, all occurred in the same calendar week, decades apart. This is the reason why the Day of Remembrance is observed.
Each center observes the Day of Remembrance in its own way. This year, Kennedy Space Center hosted a ceremony at the Space Mirror Memorial at Kennedy’s Visitor Complex. On the other hand, employees held a commemoration in the Astronaut Memorial Grove at the Johnson Space Center.
NASA's Day of Remembrance timeline
A cabin fire during a launch rehearsal test of Apollo 1 claims the lives of three astronauts: Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee.
N.A.S.A. loses seven crew members on board when the Space Shuttle Challenger (OV099) breaks apart just 73 seconds into its flight.
Only a few moments before Columbia is scheduled to land safely at the Kennedy Space Center, disaster strikes over Texas and claims the lives of its seven-member crew.
N.A.S.A.'s first annual Day of Remembrance is observed.
NASA's Day of Remembrance FAQs
Who was the first human in space?
The first human in space was a Russian named Yuri Gagarin, from the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.), and his flight in the Vostok lasted 108 minutes.
When is National Space Day?
National Space Day is the first Friday in May.
Has any woman been to space?
Yes, the first woman to travel to space was Valentina Tereshkova, who was a part of the spacecraft Vostok on June 16, 1963.
How to Observe NASA's Day of Remembrance
Watch the sky
Go outside and watch the night sky. Spend some time learning about the universe and the advances made in its exploration.
Visit a planetarium or museum
Visit your local planetarium or a space museum. Spend time learning about the history of space travel.
Share on social media
Observe the day by sharing relevant information about space and N.A.S.A. on your social media handles.
5 Facts About N.A.S.A
This world-famous space organization was founded on July 29, 1958, in the U.S.
More than exploration
N.A.S.A. builds state-of-the-art satellites that help scientists learn more about the earth and other celestial bodies.
Centers and facilities
N.A.S.A. has the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as well as nine centers and seven test and research facilities.
To be an astronaut
One of the minimum requirements to be an astronaut at N.A.S.A. is to have completed 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft.
Apart from astronauts, scientists, engineers, writers, secretaries, lawyers, and teachers are also employed.
Why NASA's Day of Remembrance is Important
It memorializes heroes
NASA Remembrance Day recognizes our national heroes. It ensures they do not remain forgotten and obscure.
It makes us pause and reflect
This day is a great opportunity to learn from past mistakes. It ensures the core value of safety is upheld in all circumstances.
It celebrates innovation
On this day, we pay tribute to the fearless martyrs of space exploration and innovation. These men and women are worthy of our mention and remembrance.
NASA's Day of Remembrance dates