Shuttle Families Still Back NASA Mission

The Columbia Space Shuttle and the seven astronauts who were killed when space shuttle Columbia exploded during re-entry. AP

The families of Columbia's crew urged the nation Monday to go beyond their grief and pursue "the bold exploration of space" to improve life on Earth for future generations.

"It would be a disappointment to them if it didn't go forward because they would feel like that sacrifice was for nothing then," Anderson's mother Barbara told CBS News Correspondent Hattie Kauffman.

"His life wasn't in vain and it will do some good to mankind in the future and years to come," she said. "I'm proud to have had a son that contributed to his country, his community and to the world."

"I'm sure she would want everything to continue," Bruce Haviland, a cousin of astronaut Laurel Clark, said on the CBS News Early Show.

He read the closing line in Clark's last e-mail to her family: "I hope you could feel the positive energy that I have beamed to the whole planet as we glide over our shared planet."

Reading a statement on behalf of all the families Monday, Evelyn Husband said there is no question that the crew members' families want the space program to continue, once NASA finds out what happened and fixes it, reports CBS News Correspondent Peter King. Husband said the Columbia families grieve deeply, as did family members of the Challenger and Apollo One crews, but like those astronauts, she said, the Columbia crew was full of enthusiasm, pride, faith, and they were willing to risk their lives in the conquest of space exploration.

In their hometowns, the astronauts were remembered in a variety of ways: All-American. Hero. Big sister.

Congregants at the Morning Star Baptist Church in Spokane Sunday recognized their hometown hero, astronaut Michael Anderson, with music and memories, reports CBS News Correspondent Stephan Kaufman.

Rev. Freeman Simmons said that Anderson ha moved from this world to a better world.

"Michael acted like an eagle. He had the characteristics of an eagle," said Simmons. "He soared high."

"He kind of inspired me to keep going," said 15-year-old Sunday school student Courtney Milan, "and don't let anything stop you, whatever you believe in, whatever you want to do you can keep going."

"He inspires me follow my dreams, (and to) believe in what I believe in and not let anybody hold me down," added Michael Boyd, 15.

In her final days on Columbia, Laurel Clark of Racine, Wis., looked at the Earth and told friends and family in an e-mail that the planet is magnificent and her perspective "truly awe-inspiring."

"Laurel had a lot of energy, a lot of spirit, and some of that, I guess, we have to keep it to help us," her mother, Marge Brown, told CBS News Early Show co-anchor René Syler.

Col. Husband graduated from Texas Tech in Lubbock, and never lost his fondness for the school.

"If you just wanted an All-American boy, that was Rick," Dr. James Lawrence, an engineering professor who taught Husband.

"He was just a wonderful guy," added Dr. Thomas Burton, director of the engineering department. "He was famous around here, regarded as a hero, but he never let it affect him. He was always low-key and unassuming."

Cmdr. Willie McCool also lived in Lubbock, moving to the city in west Texas when he was in junior high. He became known as "Cool Willie" at Lubbock Coronado High School.

"He was my committee of one," Ed Jarman, 81, McCool's former science teacher at Coronado, told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. "Anytime there was anything that needed doing, Willie was there to do it."

"He was doing what he wanted to do and that's a consolation," Barbara Anderson said. "He said before he hopes when the time comes he goes in a rocket or shuttle because that's what he wanted to do."
  • Lloyd Vries

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