(BIVN) – The 2019 Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Science Day was held at the University of Hawai‘i – Hilo on Saturday, January 26.
There were no astronauts at this year’s event, due to the federal shutdown that just ended.Still, the event went on to pay tribute to the legacy of Ellison Onizuka, Hawai‘i’s first astronaut, and to the crew of the last flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
According to the event webpage:
Born and raised in Kealakekua, Kona, Hawai‘i, Ellison Onizuka graduated from Konawaena High School in 1964 and from the University of Colorado with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. Receiving a commission in the United States Air Force through ROTC, he was an aerospace flight test engineer at McClellan Air Force Base, and at the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base while logging more than 1,700 hours flying time. Selected as an astronaut candidate in January 1978, he first flew as a mission specialist on STS 51-C, the first Space Shuttle Department of Defense mission, which launched from Kennedy Space Center on January 24, 1985; STS-51-C Discovery completed 48 orbits of the Earth with Ellison logging a total of 74 hours in space. Colonel Onizuka was a mission specialist on STS-51-L, Challenger, which was launched from Kennedy Space Center at 11:38 EST on January 28, 1986. The STS-51-L crew died on January 28, 1986 when Challenger exploded 1 minute 13 seconds after launch.