The Amaz!ng Meeting 2003

Electric Monk - Kennedy Space Center - Astronaut Memorial Part 1

A short distance from the Shuttle display is the Astronaut Memorial, dominated by the huge Space Mirror.

Memorial flowers
Flowers for Challenger Crew

We explored the memorial, reading the names, the dedicating inscriptions and the astronaut biographies.

Apollo I names
Names of Apollo I Crew on Space Mirror

Our group and the others visiting the memorial were appropriately subdued. There is a great deal of respect evident for those remembered here.

Challenger names
Names of Challenger Crew on Space Mirror

Seeing the names of the Challenger crew brought back to me the memories of being awakened that January morning by someone outside yelling that the Shuttle had exploded on takeoff. This was while I was attending Caltech, which among other things, runs NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena. I was surrounded by a large group of people who cared deeply about the space and science missions. We all grieved together at that time, and wondered how the space program would go on from there.

Memorial inscription
Inscription on Memorial Marker Across from Space Mirror

We had no doubts that the astronauts, engineers, scientists, and technicians would be ready to move forward as soon as the problems had been identified and corrected. What we did not know was whether the general public, and the politicians would continue to back manned spaceflight.

Space mirror
The Entire Space Mirror

Fortunately, the public has remained very supportive of NASA and its aims. I hope that this will continue into the future. We are only taking the first small steps on a long journey of exploration. While robot probes are better for many of the more hazardous missions, I think that continuing now to gain experience at putting humans into space will serve us well in the coming centuries.

Girl 6 and astronaut biographies
Girl 6 Reads the Memorialized Astronaut Biographies

As we left the memorial, I remember hoping that it would be a long time before we had to add any more names to the Space Mirror.

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