As NASA prepares to return to flight Wednesday, some people are feeling a sense of hope and pain. Many of those are the families of the seven astronauts killed in the breakup of shuttle Columbia. One in particular, Evelyn Husband, made a visit to Tyler a few months ago. I sat down for this exclusive one-on-one interview with Evelyn, wife of Rick Husband, Commander of Columbia.
It was January 16, 2003. The last lift off for Columbia and the astronauts aboard. Two weeks later on February 1, Columbia broke apart over East Texas. It was an image captured on video that no one will ever forget, especially Evelyn Husband. "Obviously it's very upsetting to watch. I'm looking at the very moment that my husband is passing, but yet God has really blessed me with the ability to not fixate on that moment."
Rick Husband was Columbia's Commander. "On that day, Rick had a really bad minute or two but then he went to heaven and he's in the presence of the Lord," says Evelyn.
Now, two years later, Evelyn has mixed emotions about the first shuttle to return to flight. She says, "At this particular time, I find it difficult and yet I want them to succeed. I think it's going to be terrific to see return to flight. I'm very excited about it. I have no idea how I'm going to feel that day when they launch."
Eveyln is very familiar with Discovery. Rick's first mission to space in May of 1999 was on this shuttle. She is also very close with all the astronauts that will be on board for Wednesday's launch. "I just pray so hard for it to go well because they've all had a front row seat and they know what it's like when it doesn't." Evelyn goes on to say, "My prayers are not going to be just for the astronauts, it's going to be for the families. The families that morning will be in a very vulnerable place. When you are standing on the roof of the launch control center and you know that your loved one is on that orbiter, there isn't a thing you can do but pray, which is the most powerful thing you can do. It's going to be a difficult day for them."
Evelyn and her children will not make the trip to Florida for Wednesday's launch of Discovery, but they will be watching, on TV. She did however, just a few weeks ago, meet in person with the Discovery crew wishing them the best.