On Jan. 28, 1986, NASA faced its first shuttle disaster, the loss of the Challenger orbiter and its seven-astronaut crew. Challenger’s last crew – members of the STS-51L mission were Teacher in Space Participant, Sharon “Christa” McAuliffe, Payload Specialist, Gregory Jarvis, Mission Specialist, Judy Resnik, Commander Dick Scobee. Mission Specialist, Ronald McNair, Pilot, Michael Smith and Mission Specialist, Ellison Onizuka.
The back of the marker features the famous aeronautical poem “High Flight,” written by Royal Canadian Air Force pilot John Gillespie Magee, Jr. in 1941:
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth of sun split clouds, — and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there, I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flunt My eager craft through footless halls of air. Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace Where never lark nor even eagle flew — And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod The high untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand, and touched the face of God