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Space shuttle program remembers Challenger disaster 25 years ago

Space shuttle program astronauts, NASA officials and family members will commemorate the Challenger disaster that occurred 25 years ago Friday. The Challenger accident led to several changes in the US space shuttle program.

By Marcia DunnAssociated Press / January 28, 2011

This 1986 file photo provided by NASA shows the crew of the space shuttle Challenger. From left are Ellison Onizuka, Mike Smith, Christa McAuliffe, Dick Scobee, Greg Jarvis, Ron McNair and Judith Resnik.

NASA/AP Photo

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Cape Canaveral, Florida

Twenty-five years ago, seven astronauts died aboard space shuttle Challenger when it exploded shortly after liftoff.

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NASA officials will gather at Florida's Kennedy Space Center on Friday morning to mark the somber anniversary. Special guests include the widow of Challenger's commander, June Scobee Rodgers.

She'll be the featured speaker at the outdoor ceremony. Her husband, Dick Scobee, died along with his six crewmates on Jan. 28, 1986. Schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe was among the dead.

Rodgers was instrumental in establishing the Challenger Center for Space Science Education.

The ceremony will take place at the Space Mirror Memorial, a granite monument bearing the names of all 24 astronauts who have died in the line of duty.

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