Nation on Space Shuttle Columbia Tragedy
The Cabinet Room
The White House
February 1, 2003
2:04 P.M. EST
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 survivors.
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 more.
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.