Work has begun on the construction of a major space education centre that pays tribute to the seven NASA astronauts who died in the Columbia disaster in 2003.

The 18,000 sq ft Columbia Space Science Learning Centre in Downey, California, should be complete by 1 February 2008, the fifth anniversary of the tragedy. The centre is designed to “enhance space science knowledge and scientific literacy”. Students will be able to learn about various aspects of aerospace through interactive displays and historical exhibits as well as experiencing a simulated space mission in the Challenger Learning Centre.

 Columbia memorial 1 Columbia memorial 2

"The enduring legacy of space education will be a fitting tribute to the sacrifice of the Columbia crew. This centre will no doubt provide the next generation the inspiration to live their dreams and continue in the footsteps of those before them on their journey to the stars," says Jonathan Clark, president of the Space Medicine Association, and husband of Laurel Clark, one of the astronauts who died on 1 February 2003 when the Columbia space shuttle made an uncontrolled re-entry to the earth’s atmosphere.

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Space Medicine Association