Status Report

Honoring the Mission of the Space Shuttle Columbia – Senate – February 03, 2003

By SpaceRef Editor
February 3, 2003
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Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I send a resolution to the desk and ask for its consideration.

The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will report.

The legislative clerk read as follows:

A resolution (S. Res. 41) honoring the mission of the space shuttle Columbia.

There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the resolution.

Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the resolution be agreed to and the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table.

The PRESIDENT pro tempore. It there objection?

Without objection, it is so ordered.

The resolution (S. Res. 41) was agreed to, as follows:

S. Res. 41

Resolved, That the Senate commemorates with deep sorrow and regret the fate of the Columbia space shuttle mission and when it adjourns today, it do so as a further mark of respect to the astronauts who lost their lives.

The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The majority leader.

Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, initially we planned to come in for a pro forma session today and not have further remarks made. But in light of the great national tragedy, a time when all of our thoughts in this body and of all Americans converge on the families and the loved ones of the Columbia crew members, both the Democratic leader and I would like to take just a couple minutes to make a statement. Then we will be adjourning at that point.

I join all Americans in expressing our deepest sympathy for the events that have occurred and extend our deepest sympathy to the families of the crew members, and want to take this opportunity to salute the courage of the crew.

The events of 2 days ago have caused all of us to go back and look into both our own lives but also the lives of other great explorers who so willingly have taken the risk with that ultimate goal of making the world a better place. Indeed, the heroes that we all celebrate in terms of their lives, of which we have been reviewing over the last 24 hours, are very much the focus of not just us in this body but, indeed, the world.

Each Columbia crew member was a pioneer. They would want us to recognize their sacrifices through our comments and through our review of their lives and through our comforting of their families. But I also know they would want us to determine the cause of this tragedy, to fix what caused it, and then to move on in that same spirit of exploration.

I, in closing, do extend my own personal sympathy and the sympathy of this body to those families, and to those great pioneers and heroes of the American spirit.

The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Democratic leader.

Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, I join the majority leader in expressing, as he has, our heartfelt sympathy to the families of the astronauts, to NASA, to the people of Israel, and to all of those responsible as we contemplate the tragic loss.

There is no way one can adequately express in words the sense of sorrow, of regret that we would like to be able to convey to the families themselves. But as they contemplate these losses, we wish them great strength, strength in knowing that their loved ones committed themselves to a great cause, and, in so doing, created the path to a future that we will continue to celebrate.

Neil Armstrong, when he landed on the moon, made note of that fact that it was: One small step for man, one giant step for mankind. I believe these astronauts made one giant step for mankind–in better relations, in finding ways with which to pursue science so successfully; and, in so doing, it has created their footprints not only in the path once begun by the pioneers, such as Neil Armstrong, but that of future astronauts as well who will carry on this
great experiment in space recognizing its importance to all of mankind.

So as we contemplate this loss, we celebrate their lives, we celebrate their accomplishments, we celebrate the fact that they gave all they could for their country.

At times such as this, the word “hero” is appropriate. Indeed, they were just that; they were and are heroes, role models, committed Americans, patriots, and pioneers.

We thank them. We applaud their accomplishment. And we wish their families Godspeed during this difficult time.

I yield the floor.

The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The majority leader.

SpaceRef staff editor.