NASA to honor crews of doomed Apollo 1 and Challenger missions

It will hold its annual Day of Remembrance on the Challenger disaster's 30th anniversary.

Every year, NASA holds a Day of Remembrance to honor the memory of the astronauts who lost their lives in the pursuit of space exploration. The space agency is holding 2016's ceremonies on January 28th, exactly 30 years since the space shuttle Challenger disintegrated 73 seconds after take off. Challenger fell apart off the coast of Cape Canaveral in 1986, causing the deaths of its seven passengers, including Christa McAuliffe who was slated to film "teacher in space" videos for kids. The space shuttle was supposed to launch the Comet Halley Active Monitoring Program and to rendezvous with and capture the satellite Spartan.

The ceremony will also honor the three Apollo 1 veteran astronauts who tragically lost their lives to a fire that engulfed their cockpit during a test launch 49 years ago, on January 27th, 1967. It was the first manned mission of the famous Apollo lunar landing program, and it was supposed to launch on February 21st, 1967 to enter low-Earth orbit. NASA used what it learned from the failed mission to make sure the next ones were a success.

Of course, the space agency isn't forgetting the seven crew members who lost their lives when the space shuttle Columbia broke apart over Texas on February 1st, 2003. The hot gases that seeped into its wings caused it to disintegrate while reentering the atmosphere. NASA's senior officials will hold a ceremony starting at 11AM today, January 28th, at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Employees at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, on the other hand, will light candles in the astronauts' memory. You can also join in by watching a live stream of the wreath-laying ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center, starting at 10AM EST, on NASA TV.

[Image: NASA/Flickr]