Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, has launched legislation to make a national memorial out of a new monument being built in Florida to honor astronauts who died in the line of duty.
The new 42-foot granite Astronaut's Memorial at the entrance to Spaceport USA at the Kennedy Space Center is being built privately by the Astronaut Memorial Foundation on NASA land. Garn's bill would make it a national memorial."The brave individuals who lost their lives for space exploration made the ultimate sacrifice and exhibited the highest form of bravery. It is fitting to establish this memorial to pay tribute to their memory and the contribution they made in furthering our efforts to explore the next frontier," Garn said.
It will honor the 14 astronauts who have died in the line of duty - the seven astronauts killed in the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger; three killed in a ground fire in the Apollo 1 capsule; and four who died during a T-38 training accident.
Garn, who flew on the shuttle Discovery in April 1985, said the memorial is a gift to the people of America from the citizens of Florida.
He said the Astronaut Memorial Foundation is also developing a space eduation program and facility for students and teachers about math and science to serve as a "living" memorial.
The memorial is scheduled to be dedicated May 9 and is to be maintained by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation.