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The widow of the commander of the fallen shuttle says the crew will not be forgotten.
CAPE CANAVERAL - In an emotional ceremony just a few miles from where Columbia should have landed five years ago Friday, NASA officials, astronauts, schoolchildren and family members of the lost shuttle crew gathered to remember the seven who died while returning from space.
Evelyn Husband-Thompson noted that Friday's sunrise was just as beautiful as it was the morning of Feb. 1, 2003, when she awaited the homecoming of Columbia and her husband, Rick, its commander.
Its wing gashed by a chunk of fuel tank foam insulation at liftoff 16 days earlier, the spaceship shattered high above Texas just minutes from home.
"This morning, I couldn't stop thinking about Rick and Willie and Kalpana and Dave and Mike and Laurel and Ilan," said Husband-Thompson, naming each of the Columbia crew.
"All of our families went through so much that day. We so miss them, and we will never forget them."
NASA Administrator Michael Griffin stressed how spaceflight is risky and always will be. He read a letter from President Bush acknowledging the sacrifice of "the seven brave astronauts of Columbia," then presented it to Husband-Thompson.
This is a solemn time of year for NASA. Sunday marked the 41st anniversary of the Apollo 1 spacecraft fire on the launch pad, which killed three astronauts. Monday was the 22nd anniversary of the Challenger launch explosion, which killed seven.
"Americans don't quit and we won't quit," Griffin said. "We'll never quit."
Ticket to ride to Polaris
NASA on Monday will broadcast the Beatles' song Across the Universe across the galaxy to Polaris, the North Star. The broadcast celebrates the song's 40th anniversary, the 45th anniversary of NASA's Deep Space Network, which communicates with its distant probes, and the 50th anniversary of NASA. "Send my love to the aliens," Paul McCartney told NASA through a Beatles historian. "All the best, Paul." The song will take 431 years along a long and winding road to reach its final destination - Polaris is 2.5-quadrillion miles away. NASA loaded an MP3 of the song and will transmit it digitally at 7 p.m. Monday from its giant antenna in Madrid.
Bent hose won't stall 'Atlantis'
A bent radiator hose in Atlantis' payload bay should not delay Thursday's space shuttle launch, NASA said. The problem is with one of the shuttle's four braided metal radiator hoses that carry Freon to dispel heat generated by shuttle equipment. A technician will use a long pole with a hook to guide the hose into its retraction box when the payload bay doors are closed Sunday night.
[Last modified February 2, 2008, 01:39:22]