On this 20th Anniversary, Sens. Cantwell, Cruz Introduce Bipartisan Resolution Honoring Crewmembers Who Lost Their Lives Aboard Space Shuttle Columbia on February 1, 2003
February 1, 2023
On the 20th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), incoming Ranking Member of the Commerce Committee, introduced a Senate resolution honoring the seven crewmembers who lost their lives on February 1, 2003. The resolution is co-sponsored by Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
“On February 1st, 2003, seven brave astronauts lost their lives as the Space Shuttle Columbia was lost on its return home, including Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Michael Anderson, a beloved son of the Spokane community and Navy Commander Willie McCool, who grew to love the Pacific Northwest while stationed on Whidbey Island,” Sen. Cantwell said. “Twenty years later, we continue to honor their sacrifice and courage in a new era of space exploration. As we enter the new Congress, let’s recommit to creating a culture of safety and innovation within all agencies and companies pursuing the exploration of space, and doing all that we can to protect the astronauts of today and tomorrow.”
“Twenty years after the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy, we pause to remember the lost heroes and honor their contributions to space exploration and discovery,” Sen. Cruz said. “On the anniversary of that dark day, we not only pay our respects to the crew and first responders who perished — including Amarillo, Texas’ own United States Air Force Colonel Rick Husband — but we also send our thoughts and prayers to the loved ones they left behind. The service and sacrifice of the Columbia astronauts remain an inspiration to all those involved in our nation’s space program.”
Seven NASA astronauts lost their lives aboard Space Shuttle Columbia: U.S. Air Force Colonel Rick D. Husband, Mission Commander; U.S. Navy Commander William C. “Willie” McCool, Pilot; U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Michael P. Anderson, Payload Commander and Mission Specialist; U.S. Navy Captain David M. Brown, M.D., Mission Specialist; U.S. Navy Captain Laurel B. Clark, Mission Specialist; Kalpana Chawla, Ph.D., Mission Specialist; and Israeli Air Force Colonel Ilan Ramon, Payload Specialist.
NASA had six space shuttle missions planned in 2003. Five were to continue construction of the International Space Station, while the Columbia would conduct microgravity research during its 16-day solo mission.
Read the text of the Resolution Commemorating the 20-year Anniversary of the Loss of Space Shuttle Columbia here and below:
Whereas space remains at the frontier of science, as expressed in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy at Rice University in Houston, Texas;
Whereas space exploration has been integral to the global technological leadership of the United States and to inspiring a STEM workforce for more than 60 years;
Whereas astronauts of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have bravely given their lives in pursuit of exploration;
Whereas, on February 1, 2003, the United States and the global space community joined together in mourning the loss of Space Shuttle Columbia and the 7 astronauts of the STS–107 mission, who perished on their return home;
Whereas United States Air Force Colonel Rick D. Husband, Mission Commander, of Amarillo, Texas, died in service to his nation;
Whereas United States Navy Commander William “Willie” C. McCool, Pilot, of San Diego, California, died in service to his nation;
Whereas United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Michael P. Anderson, Payload Commander and Mission Specialist, of Spokane, Washington, died in service to his nation;
Whereas United States Navy Captain David M. Brown M.D., Mission Specialist, of Arlington, Virginia, died in service to his nation;
Whereas United States Navy Captain Laurel B. Clark, Mission Specialist, of Racine, Wisconsin, died in service to her nation;
Whereas Kalpana Chawla, Ph.D., Mission Specialist, of Karnal, India, became a United States citizen and the first woman of Indian origin in space and died in service her nation;
Whereas Israeli Air Force Colonel Ilan Ramon, Payload Specialist, of Tel Aviv, Israel, became the first Israeli in space and died in service to his nation;
Whereas the people of the United States will not forget the sacrifice of the crew of STS–107 aboard Space Shuttle Columbia, as well as others who perished in the exploration of space; and
Whereas National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronauts continue to make tremendous personal sacrifices and risk their lives in service to their nation and to all of humanity: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate—
(1) remembers and honors the 7 astronauts who lost their lives on February 1, 2003, on Space Shuttle Columbia;
(2) expresses deep condolences and gratitude to the families, friends, and colleagues of—
(A) United States Air Force Colonel Rick D. Husband;
(B) United States Navy Commander William “Willie” C. McCool;
(C) United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Michael P. Anderson;
(D) United States Navy Captain David M. Brown;
(E) United States Navy Captain Laurel B. Clark;
(F) Dr. Kalpana Chawla; and
(G) Israeli Air Force Colonel Ilan Ramon;
(3) commends all those who assisted in the debris recovery and accident investigation process, including helicopter pilot Jules “Buzz” F. Mier Jr. and Texas Forest Service Aviation Specialist Charles G. Krenek, who both died during debris search, and dedicated staff across the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and
(4) reaffirms the commitment of the United States Government to create a culture of safety and innovation within all agencies and companies pursuing the exploration of space, including in the pursuit of the United States’ return to the Moon and first visit to Mars through the Artemis missions and Moon to Mars efforts.