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President Addresses Nation on Space Shuttle Columbia Tragedy
Addresses Nation on Space Shuttle Columbia Tragedy
Remarks by the
President on the Loss of Space Shuttle Columbia
The Cabinet Room
FEBRUARY 1, 2003
THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans, this day has brought terrible news and
great sadness to our country. At 9:00 a.m. this morning, Mission Control in
Houston lost contact with our Space Shuttle Columbia. A short time later, debris
was seen falling from the skies above Texas. The Columbia is lost; there are no
On board was a crew of seven: Colonel Rick Husband; Lt. Colonel Michael
Anderson; Commander Laurel Clark; Captain David Brown; Commander William McCool;
Dr. Kalpana Chawla; and Ilan Ramon, a Colonel in the Israeli Air Force. These
men and women assumed great risk in the service to all humanity.
In an age when space flight has come to seem almost routine, it is easy to
overlook the dangers of travel by rocket, and the difficulties of navigating the
fierce outer atmosphere of the Earth. These astronauts knew the dangers, and
they faced them willingly, knowing they had a high and noble purpose in life.
Because of their courage and daring and idealism, we will miss them all the
All Americans today are thinking, as well, of the families of these men and
women who have been given this sudden shock and grief. You're not alone. Our
entire nation grieves with you. And those you loved will always have the respect
and gratitude of this country.
The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is led into the darkness
beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand.
Our journey into space will go on.
In the skies today we saw destruction and tragedy. Yet farther than we can
see there is comfort and hope. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, "Lift your
eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all these? He who brings out the
starry hosts one by one and calls them each by name. Because of His great power
and mighty strength, not one of them is missing."
The same Creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls
we mourn today. The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth;
yet we can pray that all are safely home.
May God bless the grieving families, and may God continue to bless America.