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New NASA video honors fallen astronauts of Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia

NASA released a new video today (Jan. 27) to remember the three crews and other fallen astronauts who lost their lives in the pursuit of space exploration.

The agency's annual "Day of Remembrance" falls this year on the 55th anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire of Jan. 27, 1967. The week that follows includes two other somber anniversaries mentioned in the video: the Challenger shuttle disaster of Jan. 28, 1986 and the Columbia shuttle accident of Feb. 1, 2003. 

"Apollo 1 was, without doubt, a terrible tragedy," Brian Odom, NASA's acting chief historian, said in the video. "We remember the loss of those lives. We don't stop our quest. We don't stop our mission, but we continue to move forward in that mission of scientific discovery."

Additionally, the video includes archival footage from two presidential speeches in honor of the lost space shuttle crews, each delivered hours after the flights concluded: Ronald Reagan (opens in new tab), who spoke about Challenger's flight in 1986, and George W. Bush (opens in new tab), who spoke about Columbia's flight in 2003.

Video: NASA remembers fallen astronauts on 55th Apollo 1 anniversary
NASA's fallen astronauts: a photo memorial

"On this 55th anniversary, NASA remembers the Apollo 1 crew and all who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery," NASA stated in the video's introduction.

The agency is holding ceremonies Thursday at centers across the United States in commemoration of the fallen crews. The ceremonies are closed to the media and public due to the coronavirus pandemic, but NASA is posting footage of most of the commemorations online.

The Day of Remembrance falls during late January or early February every year because the three accidents all occurred between Jan. 27 and Feb. 1, in their respective years. Each of the incidents prompted a NASA investigation and a change in safety practices to address the causes.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she also tackles topics like diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, three space shuttle missions in Florida, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Her latest book, Leadership Moments from NASA, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.