The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on Jan. 28, 1986, just seconds after take off, killing all seven crew members. It was nearly two months before the remains were recovered from the ocean floor, about 18 miles off the shore of Cape Canaveral.
Capt. Michael Smith, the pilot of the Challenger was buried in Section 7A, Grave 208, May 3, 1986. On May 19, 1986, Francis "Dick" Scobee's cremated remains were interred in Section 46, Grave 1129.
Early on the morning of May 20, 1986, the unidentified remains of all seven astronauts were buried near Scobee's grave in Section 46.
On June 12, 1986, the 99th Congress passed a concurrent resolution stating "the Secretary of the Army should construct and place in Arlington National Cemetery, a memorial marker honoring the seven members of the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger."
It was decided by family members and NASA to construct the monument over the cremated remains in Section 46.
Family members of the seven Challenger astronauts and approximately 400 people attended the dedication ceremony on the morning of March 21, 1987, including then Vice President and Mrs. George Bush.
Faces and names are carved on the monument (group headstone of commingled cremains in monument base), but also have remains buried elsewhere, listed clockwise from 11:00:
Commander Michael J. Smith, Pilot (buried in Section 7-A)
Commander Francis R. "Dick" Scobee (buried in Section 46 to the left of the Challenger Monument)
Ronald E. McNair, Mission Specialist
Ellison Onizuka, Mission Specialist
S. Christa McAuliffe, Payload Specialist (and teacher)
Gregory B. Jarvis, Payload Specialist
Judith A. Resnik, Mission Specialist
and Loving Tribute
To the Brave Crew
of the United States
Space Shuttle Challenger
28 January 1986
Poem on back of Challenger monument/group headstone:
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Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
and danced the skies on laughter silvered wings,
sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun split clouds - and done a hundred things
you have not dreamed of
wheeled and soared and swung
high in the sunlit silence hov'ring there.
I've chased the shouting wind along and flung
my eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
where never lark or even eagle flew
and while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
the high untrespassed sanctity of space
put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
John Gillepie Magee, Jr.