Hutchinson A stained-glass memorial to the 17 U.S. astronauts killed in the nation's space program has been put in place at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.
The 8-by-11 foot, three-panel memorial was installed Thursday on the west side of the rotunda at the point where visitors descend to the Hall of Space Museum. It was donated by Rayer's Bearden Stained Glass of Wichita and the 19 artists who worked on the piece.
"We had talked about doing something permanent in the past for Challenger and Apollo 1," said Jim Remar, Cosmosphere senior vice president. "We hadn't come up with the right way to do it. This allowed us to do something unique and special to remember those who had perished."
An image of an Apollo-era astronaut is in the center of the piece, below the mission patch for Apollo 1, in which three astronauts died in a fire on the launching pad during a test, and those from the Challenger and Columbia missions that exploded in flight.
A flowing banner bearing the Kansas motto, "Ad Astra Per Aspera" (to the stars through difficulties) is at the top of the stained-glass display.
The sculpture will be unveiled Wednesday in a private ceremony featuring Jeff Ashby, a shuttle commander. The display opens to the public the next day.