US /

Boots, Beads: NASA Honors Its Fallen Astronauts

Exhibit offers touching tribute to those on board Challenger, Columbia
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 2, 2015 11:33 AM CDT
Boots, Beads: NASA Honors Its Fallen Astronauts
The Challenger crew, from front left: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, and Ronald McNair. Rear left: Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, and Judith Resnik.   (AP Photo/NASA, File)

The 14 display cases at Kennedy Space Center contain intensely personal mementoes and items representing the astronauts who perished in the Challenger and Columbia accidents. They are part of NASA's new "Forever Remembered" exhibit, which includes the first public display of pieces from each lost space shuttle. NASA's Michael Ciannilli began contacting the astronauts' families in 2012, gently consulting with them and collecting belongings. Every encounter, he said, left him ever more humbled. "We could have filled a case 10 times the size on each one of these folks and still used more room ... because they were so multidimensional," Ciannilli said, "and each conversation would lead to something else." Included are flight jackets and suits, Cub and Boy Scout shirts and trophies, favorite books, snapshots. A sampling:


  • Francis "Dick" Scobee: Leather helmet from the Starduster biplane he and his wife used to fly
  • Michael Smith: House remodeling plans dated 1982, four years before the launch accident
  • Ellison Onizuka: Buddhist prayer beads
  • Judith Resnik: Piano sheet music for "Valse" by Mischa Levitzki
  • Ronald McNair: White karate gi, black belt and katana, or sword
  • Gregory Jarvis: 1975 bicycling trophy
  • Christa McAuliffe: NASA "Teacher in Space" patch and quote, "I Touch the Future. I Teach."
  • Rick Husband: Scuffed cowboy boots and Bible opened to a favorite, underlined verse in Proverbs
  • William McCool: Hiking boots and 35-mm camera
  • David Brown: Airplane model as well as four NASA-supplied models of planes he liked to fly
  • Kalpana Chawla: NASA-furnished bird feeder and binoculars to depict her love of nature
  • Michael Anderson: Boyhood Star Trek-themed lunch box and Thermos
  • Laurel Clark: White personalized coffee mug
  • Ilan Ramon: Copies of the cover and a page from his recovered flight notebook, with his handwriting in Hebrew
Almost aboard Challenger: Big Bird. (More NASA stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.