Americans are mourning the catastrophic loss of the space shuttle Columbia with memorial services today (Sunday), as world leaders send condolences to the United States.
Across the country, people took part in spontaneous expressions of grief and remembrance and set up makeshift shrines at sites where fragments of the shuttle wreckage were found.
NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe says the space agency is planning to hold a memorial service, but does not give details.
President Bush attended Sunday church services in Washington, as he usually does. Earlier, Mr. Bush spoke privately (by telephone) with members of the astronauts' families -- saying the nation was grateful for their sacrifice.
U-S lawmakers are promising a thorough investigation of the disaster. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Representative Sherwood Boehlert say they will both schedule hearings. Mr. Boehlert told Fox television the U-S space program must continue, despite the tragedy.
Meanwhile, countries around the world are expressing sadness following the tragedy, especially Israel and India.
Israel's first astronaut Colonel Ilan Ramon, the son of a Holocaust survivor, died in the disaster. Flags have been lowered to half-staff across the country.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the U-S ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer addressed the weekly cabinet meeting today (Sunday). Mr. Sharon said Colonel Ramon was, in his words, "a man who did not deserve to be taken from us, along with our hopes, dreams, history and future."
A pall of sadness has also descended on India -- birthplace of the first Indian female astronaut, Kalpana Chawla, who was also killed.
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said in his condolences to President Bush on Saturday that the fact that one of the astronauts was from India "adds special poignancy to the tragedy." Ms. Chawla had become a source of national pride.
Separately, Chinese President Jiang Zemin expressed his condolences to the United States and Israel, but insisted that space exploration must continue. China plans to launch its first manned space mission this year.
Leaders from Asia, Europe and the Middle East also expressed their grief over the space shuttle disaster.
Pope John Paul prayed for the astronauts during services at