NASA Marks 25th Anniversary Of Challenger Accident

Twenty-five years ago, seven astronauts, including Beaufort native Captain Mike Smith, died aboard space shuttle Challenger when it exploded shortly after liftoff.

NASA officials will gather at Florida's Kennedy Space Center on Friday morning to mark the somber anniversary. Special guests include the widow of Challenger's commander, June Scobee Rodgers.

She'll be the featured speaker at the outdoor ceremony. Her husband, Dick Scobee, died along with his six crewmates on Jan. 28, 1986. School teacher Christa McAuliffe was among the dead.

Rodgers was instrumental in establishing the Challenger Center for Space Science Education.

The ceremony will take place at the Space Mirror Memorial, a granite monument bearing the names of all 24 astronauts who have died in the line of duty.

Last year, on the anniversary of the Challenger accident, a celebration was held in honor of a former eastern Carolina astronaut, Captain Mike Smith.

The Michael J. Smith mini-museum had its grand opening at Beaufort Elementary School and has now been open for a year.

Captain Smith's widow, Jane Smith, says the museum should inspire local kids to pursue their dreams.


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  • by Anonymous on Jan 28, 2011 at 05:30 PM
    A lot of people dont remember where they were at this time and some probably dont care anyway.I was 20years old at the time and was walking threw Wal-Mart in Elizabethcity and saw a few people gathered around the TV/electronics section.What a terrible sight!
  • by Formerly O.L.I. Location: ENC on Jan 28, 2011 at 03:32 PM
    I remember being told by a co-worker, around 9am that the space shuttle had blown up...I felt gut-wrenching sad for the people on board. Later, I viewed the video on TV, as it was also seen by spectators/family members seated in bleachers as the shuttle launched. I remember at first, no one understood what was happening, then, the grim realization. Very sad indeed. May God rest their souls.
  • by pIRATE Location: Greenville on Jan 28, 2011 at 08:56 AM
    I as well remember this like yesterday. RIP to these and all the brave souls who died in the name of space exploration.
  • by Bookie Location: Gville on Jan 28, 2011 at 07:31 AM
    It's hard to believe that 25yrs have passed. I remember this like it was yesterday. The boss had a TV set up and we all watched the launch together. It was nearly impossible for the brain to accept what was happening right before our eyes. I just wanted to turn back time and make it right somehow. Thank God for these brave souls and adventurers who took such a dangerous risk exploring the Heavens..... “I've loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night”----Galileo
  • by Al Location: Wlson on Jan 28, 2011 at 06:58 AM
    They truely have the "right stuff" for they have slipped the bounds of earth and touched the face of god.
  • by Really? Location: DC on Jan 28, 2011 at 05:34 AM
    As much as we criticize NASA and how much they spend, these men and women who died in these accidents were true heroes, working to further our knowledge of science and technology. Many things that we enjoy today would not be possible without their sacrifice! God bless them and their families.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 28, 2011 at 04:45 AM
    Long Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia astroaunts, you will never be fogotten!
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