One day before the unfortunate SpaceX launch failure—which proved once again that space is hard—a new, deeply saddening but inspiring exhibition was opened at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

NASA is exhibiting two remarkable pieces from its two doomed space shuttles, that have never before displayed for the public, along with other space memorabilia from the ill-fated Challenger and Columbia missions. They’re definitely a must-see for anyone visiting the Kennedy Space Center.

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The nearly 2,000-square-feet permanent memorial, called “Forever Remembered,” opened on June 27th in the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit. It was designed to honor the two crews lost on missions STS-51L and STS-107, and to pay tribute to shuttle vehicles Challenger and Columbia.

Challenger’s wreckage are stored in two sealed missile silo complexes while the debris of Columbia are stored in a 16th floor office suite in the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center. The fuselage piece of Challenger and the frame of the flight deck windows of Columbia are the first two pieces of debris available for the public eye since the two disasters occurred.


“America’s space program will go on. This cause of exploration and discovery is not an option we choose, it is a desire written in the human heart.” President George W. Bush, attending the memorial service for Columbia astronauts.


A section of the fuselage recovered from space shuttle Challenger lost on January 28, 1986


The flight deck windows recovered from space shuttle Columbia lost on February 1, 2003


“The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted, it belongs to the brave.” President Ronald Reagan, addressing the Nation, January 28, 1986.


Artifacts representing the crew of Space Shuttle Challenger


Artifacts representing the crew of Space Shuttle Columbia


Photos: Kim Shiflett/NASA