In an emotional memorial service, the widow of the shuttle Columbia's commander recalled their last meeting the day before launch and the devastation the families felt when they learned their loved ones had perished during re-entry 10 years ago Friday.
Speaking in front of the Space Mirror Memorial to fallen astronauts at the Kennedy Space Center's visitor complex, Evelyn Husband-Thompson shared memories of Columbia commander Rick Husband and his six crewmates, saying how proud the families were of the crew's accomplishments during their 16-day science mission.
The night before landing, the families "shared a meal together at a local restaurant," she said. "I went to bed with the NASA (television) channel left on 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, the families listened in disbelief at the shuttle's 3-mile-long runway the next morning as it became clear Columbia had suffered a catastrophic failure during re-entry.
"Feb. 1, 2003, became a traumatic, shocking day," Husband-Thompson said. "Anticipating a joyful homecoming of our crew, we were jolted in the viewing area into a nightmarish stroll of fear, uncertainty and horror that led to a crushing announcement that the crew had perished during re-entry.
Source: CBS News, Gannett News Service