Sadly, 1986 doesn’t mark the only tragedy in the agency’s history. On January 27, 1967 the crew of Apollo 1 was killed during a test on the launchpad. A year earlier, on February 28, 1966 two Gemini astronauts were killed in a flight in St. Louis, Missouri.
On February 1, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia broke up on re-entry, killing all seven crew members.
There’s a saying that “space is hard.” It gets thrown around when things like unmanned rockets explode. The phrase, however, lacks the gravitas that should be used on days like today. America, Russia and Israel have lost men and women during missions and training exercises. It’s dangerous, envelope-pushing work, and in this age of renewed progress, it’s something that we should not forget.