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Archive for Friday, August 5, 2005

Astronauts honor fallen comrades

August 5, 2005

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On the shuttle Discovery's 10th day in space, its seven members joined the International Space Station's two-man crew to pay tribute to fallen cosmonauts and astronauts, including the seven who died when the Columbia shuttle disintegrated above Texas 2 1/2 years ago.

Dressed in matching red shirts emblazoned with Columbia's STS-107 patch, the nine colleagues took turns reciting poems, quotes, prayers and reflections on their predecessors and on the future of space exploration, as the cloud-draped Earth spun beneath them.

The Discovery mission, STS-114, is the first since a piece of foam from Columbia's fuel tank struck the shuttle's left wing during its ascent, dooming the craft upon its Feb. 1, 2003 re-entry. Crew members Rick Husband, Willie McCool, Michael Anderson, Dave Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon died.

Discovery's commander, Col. Eileen Collins, began the tribute with a poem heralding "those who venture into the sky upon wings of silence."

"Theirs is the revelation of things never dreamed! Such are the ways of explorers. And the surpassing way of the sky."

In English, Japanese and Russian, the Discovery crewmates and International Space Station flight engineer John Phillips and commander Sergei Krikalev honored the doomed Columbia as well as the Challenger, Apollo 1 and the Russian Soyuz 1 and Soyuz 11 missions.

With the words of President Kennedy, mission specialist Wendy Lawrence asked God's blessing "on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked."

"We choose to do these things : not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

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