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Grieving For Columbia

Wednesday's launch is a bittersweet moment for many at the Kennedy Space Center, especially for the families of the Columbia crew. Several are there on launch day, including the widow of Mission Specialist Michael Anderson.

Sandy Anderson told The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler in a special interview Tuesday, "I'm going to be thinking about the crew, all our friends on STS 114 that are launching, and I'm going to be happy for them They're excited about this. But, of course, we're all going to be thinking about the crew of STS 107, my husband in particular."

It is important for her to be there to see the launch of Discovery in person.

"In honor of him and to help me personally with my grieving," she said. "It became very important for closure."

About her husband, back in February 2003 in Houston, Texas, President Bush said, "Michael Anderson always wanted to fly planes and rose through the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Air Force. Along the way, he became a role model."

Asked what she thinks Michael Anderson's greatest legacy will be, Sandy Anderson said, "That he was one of the few African Americans that was selected into the astronaut program. He really wanted to encourage children all over and particularly in the African American community to really work hard and excel in math and science."

Columbia was his second mission. His dream: "He wanted to go to Mars. That was his. He wanted to be the first man on Mars."

There is so much fanfare associated with the return to flight. Everyone's going to be watching Discovery. And yet, when Columbia launched, there wasn't that much attention paid to it. Americans had seen shuttles go up and come down with such frequency, it almost seemed routine.

Sandy Anderson noted, "When they were coming home, we didn't even consider that they might have a problem with landing."

Asked if she thinks Americans forgot that space travel is inherently risky, she said, "Well, I think we all kind of needed to tweak our thinking about that. I mean, we don't have those rose-colored glasses on anymore."

It is unclear what would be on her mind when she sees Discovery on the launch pad.

Back in May 2005 at the Kennedy Space Center, Sandy Anderson said, "When I first saw the shuttle rolled out, there was a moment there. I couldn't breathe; I couldn't look at it. I couldn't think about people I loved again getting back on that shuttle. But I realize that it is a risky business, and just because a job is risky doesn't mean it's not worth doing."

Sandy Anderson said she misses her husband "terribly." She noted, "It's hard to imagine that we're two and-a-half years out and he, he's gone, and he's not coming back."

Each of the Columbia families was invited to send personal mementos into space with the Discovery crew. Sandy Anderson is sending a necklace that has a patch from the Columbia mission. There is a lot of pride at the Kennedy Space Center, but also a lot of reflection.