NASA marks the 10th anniversary of the Columbia disaster

In an emotional memorial service, the widow of the commander of the space shuttle Columbia, recalled their last meeting of the day before the launch and the devastation of families felt when they learned their relatives had died in the back 10 years ago Friday .

Speaking to the Mirror Memorial space for astronauts fallen visitor complex the Kennedy Space Center, Evelyn Husband-Thompson shared memories of Columbia commander Rick Husband and his six teammates, saying the families were proud of the achievements of the crew during their 16 days scientific mission.

The night before the landing, the families, "shared a meal together at a local restaurant," she said. "I went to bed with NASA (TV) channel left quietly in the background and I fell asleep, thanking God for the great mission, and I was so excited for the reunion with my husband."

Instead, families listened with incredulity 3-mile long trail of the shuttle the next day because it became clear that Columbia suffered a catastrophic failure during re-entry.

"February 1, 2003, became a traumatic event, day shocking," Mari-Thompson. "Anticipating a joyful return of our team, we were shaken in the display area in a walking nightmare of fear, the uncertainty and horror that led to an announcement that the grinding crew perished during re-entry.

"The words of pain, efforts to comfort, even fathom the magnitude of losses was amazing that day. Looks of disbelief a family member to another brought little comfort. The shock was so intense that even the tears were not allowed to fall freely. They would come in the weeks, months and years to come in waves and in buckets. '

And in the months and years that followed, she said, "the human spirit, created by God, began to minister to my family."

"Friends and family took care of us and thousands of others have prayed for us. To all of you, I want to say thank you .... God bless the families of the STS-107 mission. May our broken hearts continue to heal and may continue to replace beauty ashes. God bless you. "

In an interview before the ceremony, Mari-Thompson said she remains a strong supporter of NASA and the manned space program.

"NASA is an extraordinary group of people and they have been extremely supportive of us," she said. "This was the dream of Rick since he was 4 years old, and obviously what happened was devastating. But that does not stop the cause of space exploration. I fully support. C is contributed so much to our world. "

Hundreds of area managers, engineers and knowledge gathered on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Columbia disaster, the 27th anniversary of the loss of Challenger January 28, 1986, and the 46th anniversary of a fire ramp Launch January 27, 1967, Apollo killed three astronauts.Their names are carved in the memory mirror space with others who have lost their lives in the pursuit of space flight.

Columbia was destroyed during re-entry when the hot gas penetrated the left wing of the shuttle through a hole in a panel of leading edge thermal protection. The hole was caused by the impact of foam insulation that fell off the external fuel tank of the ship at the launch 16 days earlier.

As a post-accident investigation show, NASA has a long history of problems with "foam shedding", but continued to run shuttles without a thorough understanding of the implications.

"Looking back, there was no malicious intent by an engineer or in the decisions they made that led to the loss of Columbia and its crew," said the director of the Kennedy Space Center, Robert Cabana, a veteran shuttle commander. "They did their best to succeed., But we are human and often insufficient data when we make bad decisions. And this means events such as Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia."

Cabana said NASA had learned from its mistakes "and we go to even greater achievements."

"But we must never forget the hard lessons we have learned in the past," he told the crowd. "It is important that we remember and reflect. We must do our best to avoid something like this never happens again. Too much is at stake. "

William Gerstenmaier, director of space operations inhabited at NASA Headquarters in Washington, echoed the sentiments Cabana, saying that the Columbia accident "was not caused by a single event or a single person, but by a series of missteps cultural and technical stemming all the way back to the shuttle launch first time in 1981 when ice and foam first hit the (orbiter). "

"This was a first indication we had a design problem," he said. "But we continued to fly without fully investigating the effects of the foam on the orbiter. We continued to lose foam on many missions, which reinforced the idea that everything was fine. We were not hungry, and we did not analyze in depth the implications of foam being released at exactly the wrong time. '

He warns engineers to remain vigilant, "to recognize any potential vulnerability can become a big problem."

"In honor of the crew of Columbia, it is our duty to be aware of technicalities and be creative on the understanding between them and the underlying problems," he said. "Even small problems can emerge as major failures."

After the memorial, three NASA T-38 jets roared over in a "missing man" formation. Gospel singer BeBe Winans performed his song "Ultimate Sacrifice", and Mari-Thompson, assisted by Gerstenmaier, Cabana, and Eileen Collins, commander of the first post-Columbia shuttle mission, laid a wreath at the foot of mirror space.
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