Lubbockite Gene Maxwell shot this home video from Cape Canaveral in Florida January 16th. He and his wife, Susan, say it was a spectacular site. "It was a beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky. The breeze was perfect," said Susan about the day Shuttle Columbia lifted off into space.
The Maxwells traveled to Florida to watch the lift off for one reason: so they could watch a close friend begin his second journey into space.
Astronaut Rick Husband and Susan Maxwell became really good friends in the 70's when they were in choir together at Amarillo High School. "I guess this is my first picture for that. I was choir queen, he was choir president and he was presenting me with a gold bracelet," Susan said. Susan was wearing the bracelet during the interview and said she wears it frequently.
Susan says she remembered that Rick had always dreamed of becoming an astronaut and loved what he did for NASA. He even shared stories with close friends. "After his first launch on Shuttle Discovery, there was a reception at his mother's house in Amarillo. My step daughter made a model of the space shuttle. He had autographed it. He was showing her how the shuttle doesn't always fly nose first like airplanes. He was using her head as the world and going around her head with the model space shuttle," Susan said.
Susan has many more pictures of Rick in her collection. For instance, a picture of Rick taking Susan and some kids on a personal tour of a mock space shuttle inside NASA at Houston, which is where the astronauts train.
But there would be one last picture Susan would ever get of Rick. The last picture in her collection...a group shot of all seven astronauts. "The crew's secretary was handing [the photo] out as we were waiting at the landing strip on Saturday. It got a little bent up in the events throughout the day. That was handed to us about the time the shuttle disintegrated," Susan said with a little hesitation.
Susan says she still can't believe Rick's gone. And even though his life ended way too soon, his impression on her will last a lifetime. "I was proud of the man regardless of his career choice. I'm happy for his accomplishments," said Susan.
Susan Maxwell says she's relying on her faith to get her through this tragedy.