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May 25, 2009

Memorial Day: Remembering the fallen who gave their lives exploring space

by Ken Kremer

In the U.S., on Memorial Day, we remember American heroes who gave their lives protecting our country.

In your thoughts on this Memorial Day (May 25), please also remember the souls of the brave hero astronauts and their loved ones. The fallen astronauts made the ultimate sacrifice for the space program believing that the exploration of space was worth risking their lives for the benefit of all mankind.

A memorial to the fallen astronauts is located at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and sponsored by The Astronauts Memorial Foundation (AMF). The Space Mirror Memorial, designated as a national memorial by Congress and President George Bush, was dedicated in 1991.

Learn more at The Astronauts Memorial Foundation.

Here are some photos from my visit to the national Astronaut Memorial during the STS-125 mission.

The Space Mirror Memorial

The Space Mirror Memorial

he Astronauts Memorial Foundation's Space Mirror Memorial is a unique blend of art and science and a fitting tribute to the astronauts being honored. Dedicated in 1991 by Vice President Dan Quayle, the Space Mirror was designated a national memorial by Congress and President George Bush.
It's design was the result of a national architectural competition which drew entries from more than 750 architects. Only the Vietnam Veterans Memorial attracted more design concepts.
The Space Mirror is 42.5 feet high and 50 feet wide and is constructed of mirror-finished granite. It consists of 90 granite panels. There are eighty (80) 5-foot x 5-foot and ten (10) half sized panels. Each full panel is two inches thick and weighs 500 pounds.
The sun's rays are projected through the names of the astronauts, which are engraved through the granite. The letter spaces are filled with crystal clear acrylic, minutely jagged on the front side to diffuse the light. Powerful lights illuminate the astronauts' names 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Columbia Memorial

Columbia Memorial

n February 7, 2000, The Astronauts Memorial Foundation unveiled a new 6-foot by 6-foot granite wall that showcases the photos and biographies of the 17 U.S. astronauts depicted on the giant Space Mirror Memorial. In 2003, the names of all seven Columbia astronauts were added to the Space Mirror Memorial and a second biographic wall.
The Dignity Memorial

The Dignity Memorial

biographic wall was added by The Astronauts Memorial Foundation after the 2003 Columbia Tragedy.
Astronaut Memorial Plaque

Astronaut Memorial Plaque

stronaut Memorial plaque at the KSC Visitor Complex sponsored by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation. The Astronaut Memorial honors the astronauts who gave their lives for space exploration.

Planetary Society volunteer Ken Kremer is reporting for us from the Kennedy Space Center, where he witnessed the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis to the Hubble Space Telescope on May 11. Kremer is a research scientist and freelance journalist who spends his spare time giving public outreach presentations on behalf of The Planetary Society as a volunteer and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a Solar System Ambassador. He also enjoys creating Mars mosaics. Thanks Ken!

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