Statement from the families of Columbia's crew, read by Evelyn Husband, wife of shuttle Cmdr. Rick Husband in a broadcast interview:
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.
Columbia's 16-day mission of scientific discovery was a great success, cut short by mere minutes. Yet it will live on forever in our memories. We want to thank the NASA family and people from around the world for their incredible outpouring of love and support.
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.