Press Releases

Challenger Center Marks 29 Years Since Shuttle Tragedy

Crew’s Legacy Lives On in Thriving STEM Education Organization

WASHINGTON (January 26, 2015) – Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center) and its network of 44 Centers around the globe will honor the crew of the Challenger Shuttle by observing the 29th anniversary of the accident on Wednesday, January 28. The nonprofit STEM education organization was formed in 1986 as a living tribute to the crew and works to strengthen students’ interest and knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Challenger Center will accompany Challenger family members, June Scobee Rodgers and Dr. Chuck Resnik and his family, to NASA‘s Day of Remembrance at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday. NASA’s Day of Remembrance was created in the wake of the Columbia tragedy to honor those who gave their lives in the cause of exploration and discovery. The date commemorates the astronauts who died in the Columbia, Challenger and Apollo I accidents as well as the other NASA pilots and employees who lost their lives in the pursuit of exploration.

  • February 1, 2003 is the anniversary of the Columbia Accident, and the loss of the STS-107 crew; Rick Husband, Willy McCool, Mike Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon.
  • January 28, 1986 is the anniversary of the Challenger Explosion and the loss of STS-51L astronauts; Dick Scobee, Mike Smith, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judy Resnik, Gregory Jervis and Christa McAuliffe.
  • January 27, 1967 is the anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire, which took the lives of Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee.

Challenger Learning Centers around the globe will recognize the anniversary through special events, programs, and discussions with their local students and communities.

“It is hard to believe that we lost our beloved Challenger crew 29 years ago. They had such grand plans to teach and inspire kids around the globe,” said Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, founding chair, Challenger Center, and widow of Challenger commander Dick Scobee. “As family members, we knew that from that tragedy we had to create triumph, and continue the work of our loved ones. It is awe inspiring to watch Challenger Center continue to flourish and keep our loved one’s legacies alive.”

Nearly 30 years after the tragedy, Challenger Center continues to grow and be recognized for its successes. In 2014, Challenger Center opened its first newly designed Center since the organization’s founding. Challenger Learning Center at the Scobee Education Center, San Antonio College is a state-of-the-art Center that has quickly become Challenger Center’s flagship facility. Last year, the organization also opened a Center in Reno, Nevada, marking the first location in the state. Challenger Learning Centers in Schenectady, NY and Lockport, NY are scheduled to open later this year.

In addition to expanding its brick and mortar footprint, Challenger Center began work on a new project funded through a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The research and development grant will assist in the creation of a program that will deliver Challenger Center missions directly into the classroom, helping to reach students who do not have access to a Challenger Learning Center.

“Challenger Center is inspiring today’s students to see their full potential and follow a path that leads to a career in the STEM industry, helping us build a stronger society,” said Dr. Lance Bush, president and CEO, Challenger Center. “Never before has this mission been so critical. Just as the Challenger crew demonstrated a true commitment to being innovators in both their work and personal lives, we work to inspire that desire and passion for innovation in our Challenger Center students.”

About Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center)
As a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, Challenger Center and its international network of Challenger Learning Centers use space simulations to engage students in dynamic, hands-on opportunities. These experiences strengthen knowledge in STEM subjects and inspire students to pursue careers in these important fields. Centers reach hundreds of thousands of students and tens of thousands of teachers each year. Founded in 1986, Challenger Center was created to honor the crew of shuttle flight STS-51-L: Dick Scobee, Gregory Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, and Michael J. Smith. Learn more about Challenger Center at www.challenger.org and connect with us on facebook.com/challengerctr, twitter.com/challengerctr and youtube.com/ccsse.

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