By B.J. Reyes
Tomorrow (Jan. 28) marks 25 years since the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, when the NASA orbiter broke apart and exploded within minutes of launch — killing all seven crew members aboard.
As most everyone in Hawaii knows, the crew included U.S. Air Force Col. Ellison Onizuka. Born in Kealakekua on the Big Island, Onizuka was a 1964 graduate of Konawaena High School.
The University of Hawaii at Hilo over the weekend celebrated it’s 11th annual Ellison Onizuka Science Day, a series of workshops for children and youth to engage their interest in science and space exploration.
Today, President Barack Obama issued the following statement on the 25th anniversary of the disaster:
Fifty years ago, a young President facing mounting pressure at home propelled a fledgling space agency on a bold, new course that would push the frontiers of exploration to new heights. Today, on this Day of Remembrance when NASA reflects on the mighty sacrifices made to push those frontiers, America’s space agency is working to achieve even greater goals. NASA’s new 21st Century course will foster new industries that create jobs, pioneer technology innovation, and inspire a new generation of explorers through education – all while continuing its fundamental missions of exploring our home planet and the cosmos.
Throughout history, however, we have seen that achieving great things sometimes comes at great cost and we mourn the brave astronauts who made the ultimate sacrifice in support of NASA missions throughout the agency’s storied history. We pause to reflect on the tragic loss of the Apollo 1 crew, those who boarded the space shuttle Challenger in search of a brighter future, and the brave souls who perished on the space shuttle Columbia.
Through triumph and tragedy, each of us has benefited from their courage and devotion, and we honor their memory by dedicating ourselves to a better tomorrow. Despite the challenges before us today, let us commit ourselves and continue their valiant journey toward a more vibrant and secure future.