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Obama and NASA Honor Astronauts Lost in Disasters

President Barack Obama recalled the heroism of Americans who lost their lives in the pursuit of space exploration to mark Friday's somber NASA memorial day for three spaceflight disasters.

"On this Day of Remembrance, we join the American people in honoring the men and women of NASA who have given their lives in our nation’s space program," Obama said in a statement. "Our exploration of space has expanded our knowledge of the universe, improved our lives here on Earth and been a source of inspiration and pride for generations of Americans."

NASA's Day of Remembrance is an annual time of reflection for the U.S. space agency to recall the astronauts killed in the Apollo 1 fire of 1967, Challenger space shuttle accident of 1986 and Columbia shuttle tragedy of 2003. The occasion also commemorates other sacrifices by members of the NASA family. [NASA's Fallen Astronauts: A Photo Memorial]

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden — a former space shuttle commander — echoed Obama's comments.

"These men and women were our friends, family and colleagues, and we will never forget their lives and passion to push us farther and achieve more," Bolden said in a statement.

NASA has produced a Day of Remembrance website honoring the Challenger, Apollo 1 and Columbia crews: http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/DOR2014/index.html

— Tariq Malik, Space.com

This is a condensed version of a report from Space.com. Read the full report. Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him on Twitter and Google+. Follow Space.com on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Revisiting the tragedies on NBCNews.com: