On this day in 2003, the STS-107 mission aboard NASA’s oldest space shuttle Columbia came to a horrible end when the shuttle disintegrated upon reentry. That day we lost crew members David M. Brown, Rick D. Husband, Laurel B. Clark, Kalpana Chawla, Michael P. Anderson, William C. “Willie” McCool, and Ilan Ramon. It was just 17 years after losing the crew on the space shuttle Challenger.
At the memorial service for the astronauts, President George W. Bush stated:
This cause of exploration and discovery is not an option we choose; it is a desire written in the human heart. We are that part of creation which seeks to understand all creation. We find the best among us, send them forth into unmapped darkness, and pray they will return. They go in peace for all mankind, and all mankind is in their debt. Yet, some explorers do not return. And the loss settles unfairly on a few.
You can learn more about the STS-107 mission here.