East Texas museum to mark 20th anniversary of Shuttle Columbia tragedy
HEMPHILL, Texas (News release) - The 20th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy and the legacy of its final crew will be honored with a public, multi-day commemoration event in East Texas.
A full slate of events from January 30 to February 1, themed ‘STS-107: Still Our Mission 20 Years later,’ aim to engage and inform members of the community and students about the tragedy that unfolded in East Texas in 2003 and the extraordinary recovery effort that followed.
Organized by the Patricia Huffman Smith NASA Museum ‘Remembering Columbia’ in Hemphill and the NASA Alumni League, Johnson Space Center Chapter, the schedule includes an art show, NASA exhibitions, panel discussions, a solemn memorial service, reunions, a student robotics competition, guided museum tours, and guest speakers.
Starting Monday, January, 30, the ‘Remembering Columbia’ Museum will offer three days of free admission to its 3,400-square-foot main gallery, which features displays documenting Shuttle Columbia’s 28 missions, STS-107 artifacts, scale models, a flown-in-space shuttle launch suit, a flight deck simulator, and personal items illustrating the accomplishments and personalities of the STS-107 crew members.
All day, a free art show featuring original works and a collection of historic NASA photographs will also be on display at VFW Auxiliary Post 10351 on Texas Highway 184 in Hemphill.
On Tuesday, January 31, nearly a dozen area high school teams will compete for cash and prizes in the annual Shuttle Columbia Memorial Robotics competition to be held at First Baptist Church Family Life Center on Mann Street in Hemphill. Student participants will have the unique opportunity to receive one-on-one feedback and mentoring from NASA astronauts and engineers. Additional groups and spectators are invited to observe. The winning team will also demonstrate their creation at the museum the following day.
On Wednesday, February 1, First Baptist Church will host a 20th anniversary program paying tribute to the seven STS-107 crew members, as well as the two volunteers who lost their lives during the 2003 search and recovery effort. The memorial service will begin promptly at 7:45 a.m.
Guest speakers include Gerald Schumann, retired Mishap Investigation Program Manager at NASA; Mike Leinbach, final Shuttle Launch Director at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center; former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe; former East Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert; Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center; and retired NASA astronaut Jerry Ross.
Following the program, the ‘Remembering Columbia’ Museum will host a series of panel discussions beginning at 10 a.m. in the museum auditorium.
Topics include: “NASA Happenings: Current and Upcoming;” “Making STEM for Everyone;” “Making Space for Women;” and “Why is Space Dangerous, Yet So Safe?” An impressive line-up of guest speakers includes astronauts, engineers, NASA administrators and personnel, advisors, educators, authors, and historians.
An autograph session and book signing will follow the panels at 4 p.m.
An interactive NASA traveling exhibit will also be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in the museum’s parking lot.
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