Oil on canvas, Charles Schmidt, 1987, Collection of the U.S. Senate
The portrait of the Challenger hangs in the Brumidi Corridors on the first floor of the Capitol’s Senate wing. The oval portrait was unveiled on March 3, 1987.
On this date, the House of Representatives memorialized the seven astronauts aboard the space shuttle Challenger
who perished when the craft exploded shortly after launch that morning. The mission captured the imagination of many Americans with the inclusion of crew member S. Christa McAuliffe, the winner of a rigorous and highly publicized NASA competition for the first school teacher to go to space. Out of respect to the Challenger
crew and their families, the House adjourned for two hours before promptly passing a resolution expressing sorrow for the tragedy and remembering the astronauts onboard the shuttle. “Now their names become history,” Lynn Martin
of Illinois proclaimed. “But their drive and the dream of the human spirit will not die. In the flash and fire, the dream was reborn again in other young men and young women who will read, learn, and fly. To the crew of the Challenger
we say goodbye, but we will not forget you and your dream.” President Ronald Reagan also postponed the State of the Union Address
, which he had been scheduled to deliver that evening.