NASA remembers Columbia crew on accident's fifth anniversary

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (AP) -- Five years ago today, the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated in the skies over Texas, killing all seven crewmembers aboard.

NASA remembered the crew during a memorial service today at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The widow of Columbia commander Rick Husband, along with the NASA administrator spoke to those gathered.

An investigation revealed a suitcase-sized piece of insulating foam had ripped away from Columbia during launch and punched a hole in the left wing. During re-entry, the hole allowed-in super-hot gases that melted the wing.

The current shuttle program manager says he still thinks about Columbia every day and how to "prevent similar events." Wayne Hale says the NASA culture has changed so that it now listens to all who are concerned about possible safety problems.

Next week, the space agency is set to launch shuttle Atlantis to the international space station.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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