Memorial service, new museum exhibits planned for 14th anniv. of Shuttle Columbia tragedy

Updated: Jan. 23, 2017 at 8:50 AM CST
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SABINE COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - The Patricia Huffman Smith ‘Remembering Columbia’ Museum in Hemphill is preparing to mark the 14th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy.

On February 1, 2003, seven astronauts aboard Shuttle Columbia were killed when it broke apart over East Texas. Columbia's crew included: Commander Rick Husband, Pilot Willie McCool, Payload Commander Michael Anderson, Mission Specialists Kalpana Chawla, David Brown and Laurel Clark, and Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon, Israel's first astronaut.

Next Wednesday, a memorial service led by master of ceremonies Steve Mills will begin at 7:45 a.m. Pat Smith will be the guest speaker. Several dignitaries are scheduled to attend, including Hemphill City Manager Don Iles, Sabine County Judge Daryl Melton, and several former and current NASA employees.

Ahead of the February 1 event, museum staff and volunteers have been adding new materials to displays, as well as re-arranging existing pieces. A new astronaut cutout will allow guests to take pictures behind the image, as if they were inside a space suit.

Volunteer Michael Dickerson, who is currently finishing a master's degree in History, is finalizing a presentation which will be sent to NASA for voice overs, then produced to be shown to museum visitors.

The Patricia Huffman Smith 'Remembering Columbia' Museum, a 3,400-square-foot facility that opened in 2011, features exhibits that chronicle each of Columbia 28 missions and crews.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5.00 per adult and $3.00 per student, however, fees will be waived on February 1.

A hamburger fundraiser will be held that Wednesday to benefit the museum. Those interested may pre-order a plate for $7, which includes a burger, drink, and chips.

For more information on the museum, call (409) 787-4827 or visit

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