PEORIA, AZ - It was the Challenger tragedy 25 years ago that inspired the concept that would become the Arizona Challenger Space Center .
To commemorate the loss of the seven who died in the disaster, the center held a ceremony Friday morning at their rotunda, on the anniversary of the space shuttle explosion.
In the rotunda, visitors can see a ring of lights, or o-ring, which we know expanded and caused the spacecraft to explode.
NASA was expected to provide a live feed with their memorial service.
Organizers remind people what started “as a tragedy on the morning of Jan. 28, 1986 when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, has turned into a monumental, educational triumph.”
Peoria’s Challenger Space Center is one of 48 centers across the country, which in addition to commemorating those who died, also uses education to keep their memory and legacy alive.
The center is located at 83rd Avenue and Deer Valley Road in the far Northwest Valley.
Nationally, Challenger Centers reach 400,000 students and up to 15,000 teachers each year through a broad array of mission-based activities, a release said.
One of the newest rooms, the Smithsonian, documents the life of an astronaut. Visitors can also get a glimpse at items, which have been in space during the different eras of space exploration.
While on a visit, “students become mission controllers and fly a spacecraft on a two-hour simulation to land a probe on the tail of a comet, return to the moon, or take a voyage to Mars.”
Space director Ron Smith is always surprised people, kids and adults alike, forget they’re in a simulator.
“They get very wrapped up in it,” Smith said.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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