President Obama Honors NASA's Fallen Astronauts
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, NASA personnel, and others, participate in a wreath laying ceremony as part of NASA's Day of Remembrance, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, at Arlington National Cemetery. Wreaths were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration.
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

A remembrance ceremony was held today (Jan. 26) at NASA to commemorate the anniversaries of three separate space tragedies.

NASA's Day of Remembrance honors the 45th anniversary Friday (Jan. 27) of the Apollo 1 fire, when three astronauts perished in an accident at the launch pad while training for their mission. The ceremony also pays tribute to the 26th anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger accident on Jan. 28, and the ninth anniversary of the loss of the shuttle Columbia and its crew on Feb. 1.

To mark the somber occasion, President Obama released the following statement:

"On this solemn day, we join the NASA family and all Americans in honoring the brave men and women who gave their lives in the pursuit of space exploration.

It is important to remember that pushing the boundaries of space requires great courage and has come with a steep price three times in our Nation’s history – for the crews of Apollo 1 and the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia. The loss of these pioneers is felt every day by their family, friends, and colleagues, but we take comfort in the knowledge that their spirit will continue to inspire us to new heights.

Today, our Nation is pursuing an ambitious path that honors these heroes, builds on their sacrifices, and promises to expand the limits of innovation as we venture farther into space than we have ever gone before. The men and women who lost their lives in the name of space exploration helped get us to this day, and it is our duty to honor them the way they would have wanted to be honored – by focusing our sights on the next horizon."

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