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HomeVideoWATCH: How the NewsHour remembered the fallen Columbia crew in 2003

WATCH: How the NewsHour remembered the fallen Columbia crew in 2003

On Feb. 1, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia fell apart as it was attempting to reenter Earth’s atmosphere at the end of its 16-day mission, killing all seven astronauts on board: David M. Brown, Rick D. Husband, Laurel Blair Salton Clark, Kalpana Chawla, Michael P. Anderson, William C. McCool and Ilan Ramon.

Back then, the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (as the PBS NewsHour was then known) marked the tragedy with coverage of the national memorial service, but also a philosophical discussion about the sociocultural significance of astronauts and what space travel itself represents for humanity.
Among the panelists was acclaimed science fiction author Octavia Butler, who offered insight into the place that space and its explorers occupy in our collective imagination.

Newshour anchor Jim Lehrer also spoke with historian Roger Launius, then of the Air and Space Museum in Washington, science writer Timothy Ferris and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson reflected how astronauts hold a special place in American culture due in part to the way humanity has always valorized those who’ve risked their lives to be on the frontier of discovery.

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