NASA marks 10 years since loss of Columbia, crew

February 1, 2013 - 1:32 PM
Columbia Anniversary

FILE - This photo provided by NASA in June 2003 shows STS-107 crew members,from the left (bottom row), wearing red shirts to signify their shift’s color, are astronauts Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist; Rick D. Husband, mission commander; Laurel B. Clark, mission specialist; and Ilan Ramon, payload specialist. From the left (top row), wearing blue shirts, are astronauts David M. Brown, mission specialist; William C. McCool, pilot; and Michael P. Anderson, payload commander. The astronauts were killed on Feb. 1, 2003, in the final minutes of their 16-day scientific research mission aboard Columbia. Altogether, 12 children lost a parent aboard Columbia. The youngest is now 15, the oldest 32. (AP Photo/NASA, File)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — It's a special day of remembrance for NASA.

Ten years ago, space shuttle Columbia and its seven astronauts were lost. They were returning from a 16-day mission, and were just 16 minutes from home when the shuttle disintegrated on Feb. 1, 2003.

A few hundred people gathered at Florida's Kennedy Space Center on Friday morning to remember the Columbia seven. NASA officials joined family members, astronauts and schoolchildren for the outdoor ceremony.

The widow of Columbia's commander told the crowd the accident was so unexpected and the shock so intense, that she could not cry at first. Evelyn Husband Thompson says the tears came "in waves and buckets" in the week, months and years that followed. She assured everyone, though, that healing is possible.