partlycloudy
Friday July 3rd, 2015 1:28PM

NASA marks 10 years since loss of Columbia, crew

By The Associated Press
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- Schoolchildren joined NASA managers and relatives of the lost crew of space shuttle Columbia on Friday to mark the 10th anniversary of the tragedy and remember the seven astronauts who died.

More than 300 people gathered at Kennedy Space Center for the outdoor ceremony, just a few miles from where Columbia was supposed to land on Feb. 1, 2003, following a 16-day science mission. It never made it, bursting apart in the sky over Texas, just 16 minutes from home.

Representing the families of the Columbia seven, the widow of commander Rick Husband told the hushed audience that the accident was so unexpected and the shock so intense, "that even tears were not freely able to fall."

"They would come in the weeks, months and years to follow in waves and in buckets," said Evelyn Husband Thompson.

She assured everyone, though, that healing is possible and that blessings can arise from hardships. She attended the ceremony with her two children, her second husband and Sandra Anderson, widow of Columbia astronaut Michael Anderson.

"God bless the families of STS-107," said Thompson, referring to the mission designation for Columbia's last mission. "May our broken hearts continue to heal and may beauty continue to replace the ashes."

A pair of songs added to the emotion of the day. The young nephew of a NASA worker performed a song he wrote, "16 Minutes from Home," on the keyboard, along with a vocalist. And Grammy award-winning BeBe Winans, an R&B and gospel singer, performed "Ultimate Sacrifice," which he wrote for soldiers serving overseas.

As it turns out, Anderson had taken a CD of Winans' music into orbit with him. It was recovered in the debris that rained down on East Texas that fateful morning. Winans did not know that until it was mentioned at Friday's ceremony.

"I honor you today, I really do honor the families and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice," he added. Some in the crowd wiped away tears as he sang.

Also present were 44 students from Israel, the homeland of Columbia astronaut Ilan Ramon. He was Israel's first astronaut.

The teenagers were proud to note that they go to the same school as Ramon once did. They wore white sweat shirts with an emblem of their nation's first spaceman and the religious items he took into orbit.

"He represented Israel in the best way possible, so I think it's an honor for us to be here," said Eden Mordechai, 15.

The other Columbia crew members were co-pilot William McCool, Kalpana Chawla, Dr. Laurel Clark and Dr. David Brown.

NASA's human exploration chief, Bill Gerstenmaier, said no single person or event caused the Columbia disaster. Rather, "a series of technical and cultural missteps" were to blame, dating back to the first shuttle launch in 1981 when fuel-tank foam insulation started coming off and doing damage.

A chunk of foam punched a hole in Columbia's left wing during liftoff, leading to the catastrophic re-entry.

The astronaut who led the charge back to shuttle flight two years later, Eileen Collins, stressed that the 30-year shuttle program had its share of successes along the way and achieved its ultimate goal, building the International Space Station. The shuttles were retired in 2011.

"We still miss you," Collins said of the Columbia seven. "How can we ever thank you for your contributions to the great journey of human discovery."

The hourlong ceremony was held in front of the huge black granite monument bearing the names of all 24 astronauts who have died in the line of NASA duty. The three-man crew of Apollo 1 died in the Jan. 27, 1967, launch pad fire. The Challenger seven were killed Jan. 28, 1986, during liftoff. Husband and his crew honored them during their own flight, just four days before dying themselves.

On Friday, the names of each of the dead were read aloud. Afterward, mourners placed carnations and roses on the grating in front of the mirror-faced monument.

"I felt compelled to be here to memorialize those who were a big part of my life," said David Nieds, 39, a grocery store manager who got up early to drive from Fort Lauderdale with his mother and 16-year-old nephew.

He attended dozens of launches. Some people like sports, he explained, while he follows the space program.

Memorial services also were held at Arlington National Cemetery, where three of the Columbia crew are buried; in East Texas, where the shuttle wreckage fell; and in Israel.

"Space exploration and the sacrifice these pioneers made benefits us all," President Barack Obama said in a statement. "Today, we honor their lives and recommit ourselves to living up to their shining example."
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
7:04PM ( 1 year ago )
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Federal report: Polar bears in peril due to global warming
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Polar bears are at risk of dying off if humans don't reverse the trend of global warming, a blunt U.S. government report filed Thursday said."The single most important step fo...
8:25PM ( 17 hours ago )
The Latest on train derailment: 5,000 evacuated in Tennessee
MARYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — 6 p.m.An official in eastern Tennessee says smoke has stopped rising from the site where a CSX train car derailed and caught fire, forcing the evacuation of thousands of reside...
6:05PM ( 19 hours ago )
Obama draws sharp contrasts with 'mean' Republicans
LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — Wading into presidential politics, President Barack Obama on Thursday promoted his brand of middle-class economics by drawing sharp contrasts with "mean" Republicans in a state...
5:36PM ( 19 hours ago )
Jim Webb, Iraq war critic in Senate, running for president
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jim Webb, a decorated Vietnam veteran and accomplished novelist who became a fierce critic of the Iraq war in the Senate, announced Thursday that he's challenging Hillary Rodham Clin...
5:08PM ( 20 hours ago )
Top Republican doubts Senate will confirm ambassador to Cuba
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that his chamber is unlikely to approve an American ambassador to Cuba, dishing out a quick rebuff to President Barack Obama and...
4:28PM ( 20 hours ago )