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Prayer, Special Events to Mark Anniversary of Shuttle Disaster

January 28, 1987|From Associated Press

NASA employees will observe 73 seconds of silence. Schoolchildren will launch a small rocket, and a statue made partly from donated pennies will be dedicated today, as Americans recall the Challenger disaster of one year ago.

Some relatives of the seven shuttle crew members will join in public memorial services; others will grieve privately. The family of Ellison S. Onizuka planned a happier observance for Saturday, when members will gather in Houston for a Hawaiian-style picnic.

"We promised Ellison a luau when he got back, with some of his friends, and the luau never occurred," said Claude Onizuka, his brother. "So we made a promise to the NASA people that on the one-year anniversary, we'd come back and put that luau back on."

The astronauts' families on Tuesday issued a joint "Letter to America," in which they promised to raise money for space learning centers around the country--"places where children, teachers and citizens alike can touch the future."

They said the learning centers, cumulatively to be called Challenger Center, will have provide spaceship-like stations where pupils and teachers will be able to work with equipment, conduct experiments and grow familiar with space technology.

Some ceremonies today were to coincide with the time on Jan. 28, 1986, that Challenger lifted off from Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The shuttle exploded 73 seconds later, killing mission commander Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, pilot Michael J. Smith, teacher Sharon Christa McAuliffe and crew members Gregory Jarvis, Judith A. Resnik, Ronald E. McNair and Onizuka.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, at its 10 centers, will observe 73 seconds of silence beginning at the launching time, 11:38 a.m. EDT. Flags will be lowered to half staff and President Reagan will address NASA employees via satellite television hookup later in the day.

A memorial service will take place in the Ft. Myer Chapel in Virginia, adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery, where Smith and Scobee are buried.

Concord, N. H., where McAuliffe taught high school social studies, is keeping its observances private. There will be an assembly at her school, but no public ceremony.

A statue of McAuliffe gazing upward, made in part from more than 1 million pennies donated by schoolchildren, will be dedicated today in West Virginia. Bill Hopen melted some of the coins into the bronze he sculpted into the $13,000 statue, which will be displayed at Charleston's Sunrise Museum.

In Denver, an American flag recovered from the shuttle wreckage will be presented by a Boy Scout honor guard in a candle-lit ceremony.

In Auburn, Wash., Scobee's former school, renamed Dick Scobee Elementary, will hold a memorial service. In Seattle, elementary school pupils will launch a small rocket.

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