Scattered Clouds 45° Good Afternoon
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Kennedy Space Center honors flight crews of space shuttles Challenger, Columbia

This 1986 file photo provided by NASA shows

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

A memorial honoring the flight crews of space shuttles Challenger and Columbia opened Saturday at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.  

"Forever Remembered" came about through a collaboration between NASA and the families of the crews of the space shuttle missions STS-51L and STS-107. The 2,000-square-foot memorial contains the largest collection of personal items of both crews and recovered hardware from Challenger and Columbia, according to WKMG Orlando.

"The crews of Challenger and Columbia are forever a part of a story that is ongoing. It is the story of humankind's evolving journey into space, the unknown and the outer-reaches of knowledge, discovery and possibility," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement. "It is a story of hope."

In 1986, the Challenger space shuttle lifted off on its 10th mission. A booster failure caused an explosion that destroyed the vehicle and killed seven astronauts: Commander Francis Scobee, Pilot Michael Smith, Mission Specialists Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka and Ronald McNair, and Payload Specialists Gregory Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe.  

In 2003, Columbia's orbiter broke apart as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere, killing Commander Rick Husband, Pilot Willie McCool, Payload Commander Michael Anderson, Mission Specialists Kalpana Chawla, David Brown and Laurel Clark, and Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon.

"Forever Remembered" honors the 14 astronauts killed in the tragedies through the crew's personal items, such as flight jackets and family photographs. Some items belong to NASA, and others are on loan from the crew members' families. Also included in the memorial are the wreckage and debris from Challenger and Columbia, publicly displayed for the first time.  

"It's about the vehicles, the crews and the NASA family that made it all possible. We're not going to forget the lessons that we learned," Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana told CBS News. "We're not going to forget the crews or the people who made it possible. . . . This is an important part of that story that needs to be shared."

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