WASHINGTON, July 20 (UPI) -- Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, filed legislation Tuesday that would award the congressional gold medal to the crew of the space shuttle Columbia.
Hutchison, a member of the Senate's Subcommittee on Space, introduced the measure on the 35th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing to recognize the crew's pioneering spirit.
The Texas senator said the seven astronauts who died Feb. 1, 2003 when the shuttle broke apart during re-entry "made the ultimate sacrifice in search of knowledge."
The Columbia suffered a catastrophic failure due to a breach that occurred during launch when foam from the external tank struck the carbon panels under the left wing.
Crew members Rick D. Husband, William C. McCool, David Brown, Laurel Blair Salton Clark, Michael P. Anderson, Ilan Ramon and Kalpana Chawla, died in the crash in Texas about 16 minutes before the shuttle was scheduled to land in Florida.