NASA will mark the 10th anniversary of the Columbia disaster on Friday. The ceremonies will take place in Florida and Texas, honoring the crew members of Columbia (2003) as well as Challenger (1986) and Apollo 1 (1967) disasters.
A televised ceremony will be held on Friday at the Kennedy Space Center's Space Mirror in Florida. The Space Mirror is a memorial for astronauts who gave their lives for space exploration. The service will be hosted by the Astronaut Memorial Foundation and will begin at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT). It will be webcast live via NASA TV, reports Space.com.
A tribute to those lost will be paid by NASA’s Administrator Charles Bolden together with other NASA officials during an observance at the astronaut memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
NASA officials announced, "NASA's Day of Remembrance honors members of the NASA family who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery,” adding, "Flags across the agency will be flown at half-staff in their memory."
Charles Bolden told NBC News this month during a visit to Seattle, "I think this is not a memorial. It's a celebration, because of what they made possible." He added, "We're commemorating them, and we're thanking them by continuing to move forward — and not dropping back and dwelling on the pain. They'd be pretty angry, I think, if they saw that."
On Feb. 1, 2003, a crowd of several hundred people arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center to witness the landing of space shuttle Columbia. The shuttle was carrying a group of seven astronauts (five men and two women). It was to land after spending sixteen days in space, but it never landed.
The family members of the crew of Columbia were taken to private quarters, where they were given the news of the devastating end of the Columbia mission (code-named STS-107).
The astronauts lost in Columbia were Commander Rick Husband, co-pilot William McCool, specialists, , Michael Anderson, , and , who was an Israeli fighter pilot.
The catastrophe occurred because of a piece of foam that fell from the external rocket tank on launch. This piece opened a hole in a shuttle wing that caused the craft to rip apart.
Wayne Hale, a retired shuttle program manager, said, "In the 10 years since the Columbia investigation, the accident report has become a landmark study in organizational causes of accidents.''
President George Bush made the decision to end the shuttle program after the construction of International Space Station was complete. On July 21, 2011, the shuttle program was concluded upon the landing of space shuttle Atlantis.