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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:48 p.m., Monday, February 3, 2003

Relatives say 'exploration of space must go on'

By Martin Steinberg
Associated Press

The families of Columbia's crew today remembered their loved ones as optimists who rejected the word "can't" and explorers willing to accept risk for the sake of expanding knowledge.

They urged Americans to support the space effort "for the benefit of our children and yours."

"We've gotten strength from each other," Evelyn Husband, wife of Cmdr. Rick Husband, told NBC's "Today" show today, describing a meeting that relatives of the seven-member crew held Sunday.

"We just cried and laughed and hugged each other, and it was very helpful."

She read a statement from the families.

"On January 16th we saw our loved ones launch into a brilliant, cloud-free sky. Their hearts were full of enthusiasm, pride in country, faith in their God and a willingness to accept risk in the pursuit of knowledge knowledge that might improve the quality of life for all mankind. ...

"Although we grieve deeply, as do the families of Apollo I and Challenger before us, the bold exploration of space must go on. Once the root cause of this tragedy is found and corrected, the legacy of Columbia must carry on for the benefit of our children and yours."

Appearing on CBS' "Early Show," the mother of payload commander Michael Anderson recalled his enthusiasm for the space program.

"He told me some years ago the word 'can't' should be taken out of the dictionary because there wasn't nothing that can't be done," said Barbara Anderson of Spokane, Wash. "His life wasn't in vain and will do some good to mankind."

The mother of Laurel Clark of Racine, Wis., recalled Clark's love of nature.

"She loved to take hikes, be outdoors," Marge Brown of Oro Valley, Ariz., told CBS's "Early Show." "Her favorite thing to do at home was taking care of her flowers. She worried about them not getting watered when she was away."

Audrey McCool, mother of Cmdr. Willie McCool, spoke of her son's upbeat personality.

"He had a great smile; he had a great personality to go with that smile. He was outgoing, upbeat, always positive," she told ABC's "Good Morning America."

The wife of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon said her husband was such an optimist that he didn't even write a will.

"He thought it was unnecessary," Rona Ramon told Israeli reporters in Houston late Sunday.

She said that at the liftoff, while everyone was celebrating, their 5-year-old daughter said, "I lost my Daddy."

"Apparently she knew," Rona Ramon said, sobbing.