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Widow of Shuttle Commander Supports Probe

March 13, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) _ The widow of the space shuttle Columbia’s commander said Thursday that she strongly supports continued space exploration and believes investigators will find the cause of the accident.

``I think space travel is incredibly important to our country. There are certain risks and Rick accepted it, and so do I,″ said Evelyn Husband, wife of Rick Husband, who piloted Columbia on its final flight.

She’s grateful her spouse, one of seven astronauts killed when the shuttle broke up Feb. 1, was able to fulfill the dream of being an astronaut he had harbored since age 4.

On the search for the disaster’s cause, Husband said, government experts ``are incredibly thorough and determined to find what went wrong...I feel strongly that it was not negligence. It’s not a perfect world.″

Husband, 44, a stay-at-home mother, has declined most media requests to concentrate on helping the couple’s children, 12-year-old Laura and Matthew, 7, cope with the loss of their father. But she did several interviews in New York on Thursday.

She said her grief would have been unbearable the past six weeks without faith in God, along with support from friends at NASA and Houston’s Grace Community Church, where the Husbands and the family of Columbia crew mate Michael Anderson attend services.

The spouses and children of the Columbia astronauts meet at least once a week to socialize and, occasionally, pray together, she said.

Husband said she doesn’t follow the day-to-day developments in the investigation and hasn’t watched television since the news broke, apart from fleeting glimpses while working out at a gym.

Rick Husband was a devoted father, she said, who prepared separate videos for each of his children just before the Columbia flight. The tapes had segments for each day he was away, following Bible readings and prayers in their devotional guidebooks. The Feb. 1 segment closed with a greeting that he’d be seeing them soon.

The last time Evelyn saw Rick, the night before liftoff, he led a brief devotional for the crew and spouses and recited Joshua 1:5-9 from memory. The biblical passage contains the words ``I will be with you. I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and of good courage.″

Husband said NASA saw to it that officers were posted to control crowds at the family home in Texas even before the family flew back from Florida.

Astronaut Steve Lindsey, a veteran of two space flights, was assigned full-time to help the family. A couple from her church who run a ministry offering free financial counseling, Richard and Janetta Curtis, calmly took charge of things like financial details, fielding telephone calls and poring through ``buckets of mail″ each day.

In the end, Husband said, her religious faith has been strengthened, not weakened, by the experience. ``God is so close to me it’s impossible to doubt,″ she said.

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