The news that the Columbia space shuttle broke apart during its descent last month came as a painful loss to Bremerton businessman Michael Laine. Through his NASA-sponsored work to research an elevator into space, he had met the seven astronauts — personal heroes, he said — as they trained in Houston. But the disaster was also a shot in the arm for the fledgling businesses he helped create. “It was like a heart transplant. All of a sudden we’re much stronger, but at a very high price,” said Laine, president of HighLift Systems and newly created LiftPort Inc.