Press Release

NASA Johnson Space Center Joins Columbia Memorial In Hemphill

By SpaceRef Editor
January 25, 2013
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NASA Johnson Space Center Joins Columbia Memorial In Hemphill

NASA Johnson Space Center Director, Ellen Ochoa, astronauts and other NASA employees will join the Sabine County Columbia Memorial Committee and the Patricia Huffman Smith NASA Museum in Hemphill, Texas, to pay tribute to the crew lost aboard the space shuttle Columbia 10 years ago Feb. 1.

JSC representatives will participate in observances Thursday, Jan. 31, and Friday, Feb. 1. Ochoa and astronaut Tim Kopra will share remarks during a NASA night in Hemphill beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Family Life Center, First Baptist Church. Astronaut William (Bill) McArthur Jr., will join them in making remarks during a memorial tribute at the Family Life Center at 7:30 a.m. Friday. That day marks the 10th anniversary of the Columbia accident.

Columbia and its crew were lost 15 minutes before landing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla., when unknown damage to its wing allowed heating from entry to cause high-speed aerodynamic breakup of the vehicle at an altitude of about 200,000 feet over east Texas.

Ochoa was named director of JSC on Jan. 1 when her predecessor, Mike Coats, retired. She previously was deputy director and director of Flight Crew Operations, and was an astronaut serving on four space shuttle missions before moving into management positions.

McArthur currently is director of JSC’s Safety and Mission Assurance office. He previously was manager of the shuttle Orbiter Projects Office and served as a crew member on three shuttle flights and one long-duration expedition on the International Space Station. Kopra has flown one mission to the station on two different shuttles. He launched on Endeavour and returned on Discovery after 58 days living in space.

NASA’s Digital Learning Network at JSC will host two educational events from the Patricia Huffman Smith NASA Museum at 10:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 30. Students from Hemphill High School will participate. The public and media are welcome to observe.

Please contact the JSC Newsroom with questions regarding the events in Hemphill, or feel free to contact the Patricia Huffman Smith NASA Museum at 409-787-4827 or via email at

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SpaceRef staff editor.