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Kalpana Chawla, Columbia crew remembered

February 01, 2004 18:03 IST
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People from all across the United States are uniting on the first anniversary of the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster that claimed the lives of astronaut Kalpana Chawla and six of her colleagues.

NASA workers, volunteers who searched for the shuttle's remains, supporters of space programme are coming together for a programme at the Kennedy Space Center at exactly the moment contact ended with Columbia last February 1.

One year ago on Sunday Columbia and its seven astronauts were lost over Texas.

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In the East Texas towns where the flaming wreckage fell, morning tributes were also planned. And in Houston, where the Columbia astronauts lived and Mission Control resides, the biggest salute of all was saved for last -- the Super Bowl.

The Columbia astronauts' families were invited to the NFL's championship football game, along with the space agency's top officials.

In Hemphill, Texas residents had erected a cross last year, using two pine tree trunks, where an astronaut's remains were discovered.

The cross still remains, adorned with a sign engraved with the words: "American Hero."

But residents say the makeshift memorial isn't enough of a tribute. "This is where the mission ended for those astronauts," said Sabine County Judge Jack Leath. "It impacted us. We just are of the opinion that there should be a memorial to these people."

Communities in East and West Texas, where Columbia astronauts Rick Husband and William McCool grew up, hope to erect permanent memorials.


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