Retired Astronaut saddened by Shuttle Columbia explosion - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Retired Astronaut saddened by Shuttle Columbia explosion

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February 2, 2003

Albany- If you are not an astronaut, it is hard to imagine how these seven felt, and retired Lt. General Tom Stafford says the life of an astronaut is not easy.

Stafford says, "Being an astronaut is tough. You have to be prepared. You know that going into every mission you do, and if you can't do it then, it's not the job for you."

Stafford has been on four NASA missions, Apollo 10, Gemini 9 and 6 and Apollo-Suyuz, and he says on three of these missions, he almost died.

Stafford says, "I've had some close encounters, but I knew it was part of the job. My heart just goes out to the Shuttle Columbia crew's family members."

Anita Brinson lives in Albany, and as she watches the news of the Columbia Shuttle explosion, she says she is still in disbelief.

Brinson says, "I was there when they took off, and I just can't believe they did not come back."

She says she has admiration for astronauts because of the major risks they take, but she says if she had the opportunity, she wouldn't think twice. "If I had the chance, I would stand in line for as long as it would take," adds Brinson.

Stafford says the three Americans still in space are doing well. Stafford served as a defense advisor to President Reagan and he chaired the Clinton Administration's Review Committee to enhance NASA'S research and development.

Posted at 3:45PM by Jocelyn.Maner@walb.com