Onizuka honored on 30th anniversary of Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy

Ellison Onizuka

On Jan. 28, 1986, Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after lift-off, killing all seven crew members on board, including Hawaii astronaut Ellison Onizuka.

To commemorate Onizuka’s life, the state Senate and House issueed a joint certificate Thursday to the Onizuka family that highlights his contributions and legacy.

Onizuka’s brother, Claude, read a message his late brother wrote to inspire future generations:

If I can impress upon you only one idea, let it be that the people who make the world run, whose lives can be termed successful, whose names will go down in the history books, are not the cynics, or critics, or the armchair quarterbacks. They are the adventurers, the explorers, and the doers of the world.

When they see a wrong or a problem, they do something about it. When they see a vacant place in our knowledge, they work to fill that void. Rather than leaning back and criticizing how things are, they work to make things the way they should be. They are the aggressive, the self-starters, the innovative and the imaginative of the world.

Every generation has an obligation to free men’s minds for a look at new worlds, to look out from a higher plateau than the last generation. Your vision is not limited by what your eye can see, by what your mind can imagine. Many things that you take for granted were considered unrealistic dreams by previous generations.

If you accept these past accomplishments as commonplace, then think of the new horizons that you can explore. From your vantage point, your education and imagination will carry you to places which you won’t believe possible. Make your life count and the world will be a better place because you tried.

— Ellison Onizuka, 1980

After that, Gov. David Ige proclaimed Jan. 28 as Ellison Onizuka Day in Hawaii.

Other events will be held in Onizuka’s honor.

On Jan. 30, the University of Hawaii at Hilo will hold its own Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Science Day, featuring a variety of workshops and a robotics tournament. Astronaut Michael Fincke will be the guest speaker.

Hundreds of students in grades 4-12, parents, and volunteers are expected to participate. Walk-in registrations are available, and the public is invited to view interactive displays from 8 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Click here for more information.

KHON2 previously reported the impending closure of Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center at Kona International Airport.

A new airport terminal expansion project will take over the space, and the center confirmed Wednesday another location has yet to be found.

In the meantime, the center will offer free admission on Jan. 28, with a special commemorative event planned for Jan. 31, featuring Fincke and fellow astronaut Loren Shriver, who flew with Ellison on his first shuttle flight in 1985.

The center will close its doors in March.

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