Feb. 1, 2013, will mark a somber anniversary in Central Florida and U.S. history: 10 years since space shuttle Columbia broke apart as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts on board.
A ceremony has been planned to honor the crew of STS-107, as well as all of those who have sacrificed their lives for America's space program.
The memorial ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 1, at the Space Mirror Memorial at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Six-time Grammy award-winner BeBe Winans is scheduled to sing "The Star Spangled Banner," as well as "Ultimate Sacrifice," both from his latest album, "America America." The latter is an original song by Winans written as a tribute to fallen members of the U.S. military.
Ceremony speakers include:
- Thad Altman, Astronauts Memorial Foundation president and CEO
- Jon A. McBride, former astronaut and AMF Board of Directors chairman
- Mick Ukleja, Ph.D., AMF Board of Trustees chairman
- Evelyn Husband-Thompson, widow of STS-107 commander Rick Husband
- Eileen Collins, Return to Flight space shuttle commander
- Robert D. Cabana, Kennedy Space Center director
- William H. Gerstenmaier, NASA Human Exploration and Operations associate administrator
- Robert Lightfoot, NASA associate administrator.
Another memorial is planned by the city of Titusville. The city and Memorial Committee will host its annual Astronaut Memorial in remembrance of all fallen Astronauts on Jan. 26, 2013 at 11 a.m. at Sand Point Park.
Mike Lienbach, former NASA Launch Director at the time of the loss of Columbia, will be the keynote speaker for this year's event. The public is encouraged to come and be a part of this momentous event.
As Columbia re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on Feb. 1, 2003, the orbiter suffered a catastrophic failure due to a breach that occurred during launch, when falling foam from the shuttle's external tank struck the Reinforced Carbon panels on the underside of the left wing.
The shuttle and its seven crewmembers were lost over Texas at 8:59 a.m., approximately 16 minutes before Columbia was scheduled to touch down at Kennedy Space Center.
The names of the STS-107 astronauts have been immortalized on the Space Mirror Memorial:
- David Brown, mission specialist
- Rick Husband, commander
- Laurel Clark, mission specialist
- Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist
- Michael Anderson, mission specialist
- William McCool, pilot
- Ilan Ramon, payload specialist, Israel's first astronaut