Columbia may go on Challenger plate

Published: Saturday, March 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 28, 2003 at 9:48 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE - The Space Shuttle Columbia would be added to the Florida license plate commemorating the Challenger explosion under a bill filed in the state Senate.
The measure (SB 1698) was filed Thursday by Sen. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge. He envisions keeping the rendering of the shuttle currently on the plate, but adding the word Columbia to it.
"I think if we did a separate tag, then people are torn," said Posey, whose district includes the Kennedy Space Center. "The symbolism is the same."
The Columbia's seven-member crew died Feb. 1 when the shuttle disintegrated 39 miles over Texas just a few minutes before an expected landing at Cape Canaveral.
Under Posey's bill, at least half of the $25 paid for the specialty tag would go to the Astronauts Memorial Foundation and to a technology initiative that helps the scientific community transform information gleaned from space experiments into everyday science. Posey said it would be a fitting memorial to the astronauts to help pay for space research to be transferred into general research.
"Part of their calling was to make life better for their fellow man," he said. "It kind of ensures that the benefits of space that the astronauts all risked their lives for don't go unused."
The Legislature meets for 60 days starting Tuesday.

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