The Hemphill museum dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Space Shuttle Columbia will host its annual memorial service on Monday, the 18th anniversary of the tragedy that trust East Texas into international headlines.
On the morning of February 1, 2003, the orbiter broke apart in the skies over East Texas, just minutes before Columbia’s scheduled landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The STS-107 crew of seven astronauts perished in the accident. An investigation later revealed the shuttle was impacted by frozen foam on liftoff, which led to the vehicle to breaking apart during the re-entry phase 15 days later.
Each year since 2003, Sabine County has organized a memorial service to honor the lives of the fallen astronauts, as well as two volunteers who died in a helicopter crash during the search and recovery effort.
This year’s program will be hosted by the Patricia Huffman Smith NASA Museum ‘Remembering Columbia,’ which is also marking the 10th anniversary of its opening.
According to a news release, a moment of silence will be observed at the time NASA lost contact with STS-107, followed by a reading of the crew members’ names.
The program is set to begin at 7:45 a.m. and is open to the public.
Due to COVID-19 protocols, limited capacity will be observed in the museum and face coverings are required for all guests. The museum is planning to live stream the service via its Facebook page for those who wish to participate virtually.
Free admission to the museum, located at 375 Sabine Street, will be offered all day.
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