Press Release

AIAA Statement on Space Shuttle Columbia

By SpaceRef Editor
February 3, 2003
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Marty Kress, Vice President for Public
Policy of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) offers
a statement on behalf of the Institute’s more than 30,000 members as we join
the nations of the world in mourning the loss of Columbia and its crew of
seven distinguished astronauts.

On Tuesday, the members of AIAA joined the Nation in mourning the loss of
the crew of Columbia. On Wednesday, those same members returned to their jobs
with even greater resolve to make sure that such a tragedy would never again

All of the members of the aerospace community realize that space is a
risky business. But it is our business to make those risks acceptable, so
that our Nation’s best and brightest can pursue our Nation’s dreams and
explore the vast expanse of space.

In the aftermath of the Challenger accident, the men and women of AIAA had
hoped that we would never again experience a space shuttle tragedy that
resulted in the loss of life. We worked hard to make sure such an event would
not happen, and the space shuttle had a long string of very successful
missions. But on February 1, our worse fear became a reality. We lost contact
with Columbia.

There are not adequate words for the members of AIAA to convey its sorrow
to the families of the Columbia crew. Your loss is our loss, it is the
Nation’s loss.

As we look to the future, the men and women of AIAA are committed to help
NASA find the cause, provide a remedy and return the Shuttle to flight status
in a configuration safer than ever before. Our commitment to a safe, reliable
and productive space program is our highest priority. We stand unified in our
commitment to that goal — it is what we owe each and every crew and their
families — it is what we owe the Nation. Today, we manifest our sorrow for
the crew of Columbia. But tomorrow, we must manifest our resolve and move
forward to turn their dreams and goals into realities. Our work has just
begun. We still have a long journey ahead.

AIAA is the world’s largest professional/technical society, leading
aerospace content provider, and principal voice devoted to the progress of
aviation, space, and defense-based technology in all aspects of engineering
and science.

SpaceRef staff editor.