For those involved or interested in human spaceflight, the last week of January is a solemn time of remembrance, as we commemorate Apollo 1 and the Space Shuttle missions Challenger and Columbia. How does our Museum deal with the memory of such tragedies?
As an astronaut, John Young (1930-2018) was one of a kind. He was the first person to fly in space six times, the first person to circle the Moon alone, the first Space Shuttle mission commander, and the first to command another Space Shuttle mission.
Bruce McCandless II (1937-2017) is immortalized in this iconic photograph of an astronaut flying solo high above Earth. He was the first human being to do a spacewalk without a safety tether linked to a spacecraft.
Guion Bluford made history on August 30, 1983 when he became the first African American in space, launching into low Earth orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. He subsequently flew aboard three additional shuttle missions, logging a total of 688 hours in space.
The crew members of the Challenger represented a cross section of the American population in terms of race, gender, geography, background, and religion. The explosion became one of the most significant events of the 1980s, as billions around the world saw the accident on television and empathized with any one of the several crew members killed. Each has a unique story.