NASA marks 25th anniversary of Challenger accident

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“Remember the teacher? What I said about the teacher?” prompted his father, Joe Volk. “Yes. She was going to give classes from space,” said the boy, holding a yellow rose.

Erik, 10, said he was there “to remember the lives that were lost.”

The crew included commander Scobee; co-pilot Michael Smith; Ellison Onizuka, the first Asian-American in space; Resnik; Ronald McNair, the second African-American in space; McAuliffe; and Gregory Jarvis.

Erik waited patiently in a long line to place his long-stemmed rose in the white grated fence around the memorial. Each guest did the same following the ceremony, and the fence soon was adorned with flowers.

At the high school in Concord where McAuliffe taught, special assemblies were held Friday in her honor. Anniversary events also took place at Challenger Learning Centers across the country.

This silver anniversary comes as NASA is winding down the space shuttle program. The fleet will be retired after three more flights this year to the International Space Station.

Friday’s speakers stressed that exploration will never be risk-free. The Challenger astronauts demonstrated that painful truth _ so did the lost crew of Columbia. But they also showed “that we can learn from our mistakes and be better for them in the end,” said Robert Cabana, a former shuttle commander who now is the Kennedy Space Center director.

“They continue to urge us forward, to explore and to never quit just because it’s hard,” Cabana said. “They are a part of us forever, and we will not let them down.”

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Online:

NASA: http://history.nasa.gov/sts51l.html

Challenger Center for Space Science Education: http://www.challenger.org/

Astronauts Memorial Foundation: http://www.amfcse.org/

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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