Remembering Columbia: East Texas museum aims to educate new generation about astronauts’ legacy

Two decades after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, a museum is working to educate a new...
Two decades after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, a museum is working to educate a new generation of kids about the legacy and importance of that mission.(Source: KTRE staff)
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 5:33 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2023 at 8:13 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HEMPHILL, Texas (KTRE) - A week from Wednesday will mark 20 years since the tragedy of the Space Shuttle Columbia breaking apart over Deep East Texas.

Many people can remember the tragedy occurring and the recovery that took place over the following weeks, but the new generation was either very young or not even born during this time.

Veronica Thomas, a board member of the Patricia Huffman Smith NASA Museum ‘Remembering Columbia,’ said education is one of the museum’s goals.

“Basically, one of our overall objectives is focusing on their legacy, education, and hopefully we will inspire the next great generation,” Thomas said.

On these different space missions the astronauts are given special tasks and projects to complete and record data from while in space. On the final mission of the Columbia, the astronauts spent 24 hours a day in two shifts completing science experiments.

During the crew’s 16 days in space they completed around 80 different experiments. One of those experiments produced microscopic drug capsules that directly attack tumors or deep infections. Another experiment was to successfully grow live organisms such as moss and ringworms.

Even though the tragedy occurred, NASA considers STS-107 a successful mission because all experiments were completed, and the data was able to be recovered. These recoveries have helped us advance as a society today.

“And I know people probably don’t really understand how it can be successful when people lost their lives, but the objective of the mission was the experiments,” Thomas said.

Patricia Smith, also a board member for the museum, said it’s important for a new generation to understand where we came from, and what we’ve had to go through to gain the technology today.

“If we didn’t have astronauts risking their lives, we wouldn’t have cell phones. These are things that the younger generation needs to see the voyage that had to go before them,” Smith said.

Thomas said it’s important the Columbia is not forgotten.

“Technology is so important and if we forget about STS-107 and her mission, we will lose a big part of our history,” Thomas said.

The museum and NASA are hosting events in Hemphill starting next Monday, January 30 through February 1 in honor of the anniversary.

For more information on the schedule of public events, click here.