It's been six years since the country witnessed the tragic accident that took the lives of seven astronauts, including two with Lubbock ties; but as time progresses, the memory of that day still remains clear.
On February 1, 2003 the entire country watched as the Colombia re-entered the atmosphere following its 16-day mission and instantly erupted into flames. Days following the accident, countless memorials were held in memory of two astronauts who once called Lubbock home: Colonel Rick Husband, the commander of the mission and a Texas Tech graduate, and the pilot of the shuttle, Astronaut Willie McCool, a Coronodo High School graduate.
When NewsChannel 11 looks back at an interview with Astronaut Willie McCool's mother, we know that those feelings of sadness were also mixed with pride. She said she hoped that Willie would be remembered through the education systems because one of his goals was to teach when he retired from the Navy.
Today her wish has come true. In 2004, the McCool's returned to Coronado High School where Willie's legacy was remembered in the hearts and minds of Lubbock students. A new report released late last year shows McCool tried to bring the shuttle under control, but all seven astronauts blacked out as the shuttle lost pressure.
Now, NASA is working to make changes to the helmets, spacesuits, and restraints based on the disaster. A statue now stands as a prideful memorial to Astronaut Willie McCool, and the memorial remains lit at night so he will never be forgotten.
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