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Columbia families urge legacy of exploration for future generations

HOUSTON (BP)–Continue “the bold exploration of space,” the families of Columbia urged in a joint statement released Feb. 3.

The full statement, as read by Bill Readdy, head of NASA’s manned space programs:

“On Jan. 16 we saw our loved ones launch in to a brilliant, cloud-free sky.

“Their hearts were full of enthusiasm, pride in country, faith in their God, and a willingness to accept the risk in pursuit of knowledge — knowledge that might improve the quality of life for all mankind.

“Columbia’s 16-day mission of scientific discovery, which was a great success, was cut short by mere minutes. Yet it will live on forever in our memories.

“We want to thank the NASA family and people from around the world for their incredible outpouring of love and support.

“And although we grieve deeply, as do the families of Apollo 1 and Challenger before us, the bold exploration of space must go on.

“And once the root cause of this tragedy is found and corrected, the legacy of Columbia must carry on for the benefit of our children and yours.”

The wife of Columbia commander Rick Husband appeared on NBC’s “Today” show Feb. 3 following a private meeting among the seven astronauts’ families Feb. 2, the day after the crew was killed when Columbia broke apart and disintegrated just 16 minutes shy of its Florida landing.

Evelyn Husband said the families are “doing remarkably well.”

“We’ve gotten strength from each other, and it was great to see them yesterday. We just cried and laughed and hugged each other, and it was very helpful,” she said on the program.

She described the support she and her family had received from NASA as “incredible” and said her three children are “doing well” in trying now to live “as normal as possible.”

Husband said she remembers the enjoyable week she and her husband had prior to Columbia’s launch Jan. 16. Recounting her husband’s faith, she noted that when he signed autographs he typically added a Scripture verse about trust in the Lord. While it is impossible to “understand any of this” from an earthly perspective, Husband said her faith in God has provided “tremendous comfort.”

Bob Cabana, NASA director of flight crew operations at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, said in a Feb. 3 news conference, in answer to a question, “Well, I’ll tell you right now. I wish I had half the faith of Rick and Evelyn Husband. I don’t know of any finer individual or anybody that has a greater faith in his Creator. And it’s been a source of strength for Evelyn. I know that she’s content to know that Rick is with his Lord, now, and that brings a lot of peace to her. Rick was a tremendous guy.”

Israeli media, meanwhile, were carrying the text of an e-mail Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon sent to the nation’s president 12 days into Columbia’s 16-day mission.

Roman, Israel’s first-ever astronaut, noted, “From space I could easily spot Jerusalem and while looking at Jerusalem our capital I prayed just one short prayer — ‘Shema Israel Adonai Elohenou Adonai Echad’ (Hear, Oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One). …

“We are all working this mission for the benefit of all mankind, and from space our world looks as one unity with no borders. So let me call from up here in space — let’s work our way for peace and better life for everyone on Earth.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: AMERICAN PRIDE AMID SORROWS.

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