Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Honors 20th Anniversary of Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster

Allen Ramsey

January 31, 2023

Evermore magazine hosted a special remembrance at Space Center Houston.

The most recent issue of Texas Tech University's magazine, Evermore, told the full story of the university's connections to the final mission of Space Shuttle Columbia, which disintegrated during reentry on Feb. 1, 2003. 

Glenys Young talks with Evelyn Husband Thompson, widow of shuttle commander Rick Husband.

In the same instant the planet lost seven of its best and brightest people, the Texas Tech community lost two of its own: pilot Willie McCool, the son of university faculty members Barry and Audrey McCool, and commander Rick Husband, a Texas Tech alumnus. But that dark day proved an opportunity for other Texas Tech alumni to demonstrate the spirit of loyalty and determination that defines Red Raiders.

On Saturday (Jan. 28), Evermore brought together the Texas Tech and NASA families at Space Center Houston for “Remembering Columbia: A 20th Anniversary Commemoration” to honor those who were lost and celebrate the undying spirit that remains. 

The program will be broadcast at 9 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 1) on Lubbock's PBS station, channel 5.1.

Glenys Young, the university's Director of Storytelling and editor of Evermore, interviewed Texas Tech alumnae Ginger Kerrick Davis and Evelyn Husband Thompson on stage before a live audience of several hundred.

Glenys Young talks with Ginger Kerrick Davis.
Ginger Kerrick Davis communicated with the crew of the International Space Station on the day of the tragedy.

Kerrick Davis, the first Hispanic female flight director in NASA's history and now a Texas Tech regent, shared a personal account of how a family tragedy in her childhood prepared her to lead during and after the events of Feb. 1. She was a capsule communicator for the International Space Station crew at the time and, after the disaster, she played a key role in both communicating the news to the crew and devising the plan that would ultimately bring them home safely.

Husband Thompson, the widow of shuttle commander Rick Husband, shared her story of faith and resilience. After losing her spouse and watching her children lose their father, she became involved with a ministry called Fathers in the Field, which serves boys without a father in their lives. She and Bill Thompson, whom she married in 2008, now serve as a host family for a college student interning at NASA.