50 years ago today was the tragic Apollo 1 fire that killed all three Apollo astronauts aboard.
31 years ago tomorrow was the Challenger disaster, where all aboard were lost shortly after launch.
This coming Wednesday will be the 14th anniversary of the destruction of the Columbia, which broke apart on reentry when the heat from reentry got through the shielding tiles on one of the wings. All hands were lost.
Space travel seems so routine to the American public because things hardly ever go wrong. When they do go wrong, though, they go wrong in very dangerous, large ways, often resulting in the deaths of the astronauts involved. Astronauts are modern heroes and pioneers, risking their lives for the furtherance of science, and the improvement of the human condition.
On January 27, 1967, astronauts Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chaffee perished in a fire during a pre-launch test for what was to be the first crewed Apollo mission.
On January 28, 1986, the launch of STS-51-L ended in tragedy when Space Shuttle Challenger and crew were lost 73 seconds after liftoff. Crew of STS-51-L: Ellison Onizuka, Mike Smith, Christa McAuliffe, Dick Scobee, Greg Jarvis, Ron McNair, and Judith Resnik.
On February 1, 2003, the seven-astronaut crew of STS-107 was lost when Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart during re-entry. The crew of STS-107: David M. Brown, Rick D. Husband, Laurel B. Clark, Kalpana Chawla, Michael P. Anderson, William C. McCool, Ilan Ramon.
These tragedies are a constant reminder of the dedication and heroism of not only NASA’s astronauts, but those from every country around the world. They are heroes of Earth. On this day, we salute the fallen, and the soaring.