“As NASA employees, contractors, and partners in the academic community gather on January 28th to pay tribute to the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, a tribute particularly significant this year in light of the 30th anniversary of the Challenger accident, I want them to know that my fellow Members of Congress and I stand with them in honoring members of the NASA family who lost their lives furthering the cause of exploration and discovery. The nation will forever be indebted to the crews of Apollo 1, STS-51L, and STS-107, who made the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of space exploration.”

· On January 27, 1967, Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee were preparing for what was to be the first crewed Apollo flight. The astronauts were sitting atop the launch pad for a pre-launch test when a fire broke out in their Apollo capsule.

· On the morning of January 28, 1986, upon launch of shuttle Challenger, a booster engine failed, causing the shuttle to break apart just 73 seconds after launch. Lost was the crew of STS-51L: Gregory Jarvis; Teacher-in-Space S. Christa McAuliffe; Judith A. Resnik; Francis R. (Dick) Scobee; Ronald E. McNair; Mike J. Smith; and Ellison S. Onizuka.

· On February 1, 2003, shuttle Columbia broke apart during re-entry. Lost was the crew of STS-107: Michael P. Anderson; David M. Brown; Kalpana Chawla; Laurel B. Clark; Rick D. Husband; William C. McCool; and Ilan Ramon from the Israeli Space Agency.