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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Remembering Columbia and Her Crew

On the morning of this day, February 1, 2003, Orbital Vehicle #102, Space Shuttle Columbia, was just 16 minutes from landing when Mission Control lost contact. A piece of foam, falling from the External Tank during launch had struck the Reinforced Carbon Carbon panels on the underside of the left wing causing an opening in the protective skin of the wing. The orbiter and its seven crewmembers were lost approximately 15 minutes before Columbia was scheduled to touch down at Kennedy Space Center.

President George W. Bush said " Their mission was almost complete, and we lost them so close to home. The men and women of the Columbia had journeyed more than 6 million miles and were minutes away from arrival and reunion. The loss was sudden and terrible, and for their families, the grief is heavy. Our nation shares in your sorrow and in your pride. And today we remember not only one moment of tragedy, but seven lives of great purpose and achievement."

Bush went on to say "This cause of exploration and discovery is not an option we choose; it is a desire written in the human heart. We are that part of creation which seeks to understand all creation. We find the best among us, send them forth into unmapped darkness, and pray they will return. They go in peace for all mankind, and all mankind is in their debt.

Yet, some explorers do not return. And the loss settles unfairly on a few. The families here today shared in the courage of those they loved. But now they must face life and grief without them. The sorrow is lonely; but you are not alone. In time, you will find comfort and the grace to see you through. And in God's own time, we can pray that the day of your reunion will come.
And to the children who miss your Mom or Dad so much today, you need to know, they love you, and that love will always be with you. They were proud of you. And you can be proud of them for the rest of your life.

The final days of their own lives were spent looking down upon this Earth. And now, on every continent, in every land they could see, the names of these astronauts are known and remembered. They will always have an honored place in the memory of this country. And today I offer the respect and gratitude of the people of the United States."

Let us remember with honor the seven who died on that day.

Rick D. Husband - William C. McCool - David Brown - Laurel Blair - Salton Clark - Michael P. Anderson - Ilan Ramon - Kalpana "K.C." Chawla


At 7:45 PM, Blogger said...

Many discuss the merits of space exploration. However, we must always rememebr that these people who go up there are performing a brave duty for our country, they deserve our consideration and respect.
Raymond B

At 1:33 AM, Blogger D L Ennis said...

I watched the return of the Columbia it unfolded on TV…it was heartbreaking!

At 8:58 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

Indeed. I watched the very first mission of the OV-102. I mourned her like a friend.


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