WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Texas' senior senator, today announced Senate passage of a measure she coauthored that would explore the construction of at least four memorials in Nacogdoches, Lufkin, San Augustine and Hemphill to honor the Space Shuttle Columbia. The memorials are slated for communities that led recovery efforts when Columbia disintegrated over Texas in February 2004.
"This year marks the five-year anniversary of the devastating loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia. The time that has passed has helped the families and our nation's space program heal from the tragedy, but none of those affected will ever forget the events of that day," Sen. Hutchison said. "Memorials will be a fitting tribute to the seven heroes whose lives were lost in pursuit of space exploration."
The Columbia Space Shuttle Memorial Study Act (H.R. 807), introduced in the House by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), would make important strides toward establishing three memorials under the National Park System on parcels of land in Nacogdoches, Lufkin, San Augustine and Hemphill, the communities that received the largest part of Columbia debris. The bill authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study to determine the feasibility and suitability of establishing a memorial to the Space Shuttle Columbia in the State of Texas, as well as for the inclusion of such memorial in the National Park System.
The measure passed the House last year and was approved by the Senate as part of the National Forests, Parks, Public Land, and Reclamation Projects Authorization Act of 2007. Sen. Hutchison initiated the process of memorializing the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2004, when she first introduced the Columbia Space Shuttle Memorials Act of 2004.