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Lampson Leads Floor Tribute to Columbia Crew

Press Release From: Rep. Lampson
Posted: Tuesday, February 3, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Space and representative of Johnson Space Center, led floor debate today on H.Res. 507, a resolution paying tribute to the Columbia Space Shuttle and her crew.  Lampson's floor statement follows:                                                                                   

"Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.  Mr. Speaker, I come to the Floor of the House today with a feeling of sadness.

"I am an original cosponsor of the resolution before us -H Res 507- because I believe that it is important that we never forget the sacrifices made by the brave and dedicated men and women of STS-107: Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Clark, and Ilan Ramon. Each one of them gave the last full measure of devotion to the cause of space exploration.

"There have been numerous ceremonies over the past few days to remember the crew ofColumbia, including yesterday's memorial service at Arlington Cemetery.  I think that it is important for this body-the United States House of Representatives-also to pause in our deliberations to express again our profound gratitude for their service and our deepest sympathies to their families and loved ones on the anniversary of their deaths.

"Back home the space shuttle and the International Space Station take on a very personal dimension.  All of the astronauts in the NASA program, including the seven aboard theColumbia, are part of our community.  They are our friends and neighbors, their kids go to school with our kids, they shop at the same grocery stores and pray at the same churches and synagogues.

"The employees and contractors at Johnson Space Center are connected to the astronauts not just at work, but in everyday life.  The community at JSC is an extended family.  Amidst all the lofty talk, ceremonies and resolutions, let us not forget that a community and seven families lost friends, brothers, fathers, sons, wives, sisters, mothers and daughters.

"Back in Clear Lake, right off the campus at Johnson, there is a place called Frenchie's.  It's a place were astronauts and employees go to gather after work, share their experiences and bond in a very special way.  I stopped by there the Saturday evening after the Columbia tragedy.  That day there was a feeling of crushing sadness and loss, but also a hope that the vision and dream that those seven heroes died for will not be lost, but instead, will be reborn.  That their loss will remind the American people of the great challenge we face and the prospect of a better world that the space program gives us.

"The crew of STS-107 would not want us to dwell only on their deaths.  Instead, I believe that they would want us to reflect on the cause for which they gave their lives:  the exploration of space.  And I have no doubt that they would want us to rededicate ourselves to the task of ensuring that this nation continues that exploration.

"It is unfortunate that it took the Columbia tragedy to remind many of our citizens that space flight is not routine-it is hard and it is dangerous.  The crew of Columbiaknew that, and yet they did not cease from exploring.  Neither should we.

"We have serious work to do over the coming months in determining the best path forward forAmerica's space program.  There are likely to be strong opinions and differing views on how best to proceed.  That is all to the good.

"America's space program is too important to the future of this country for us not to give it serious attention.  I welcome the discussion and debate-as long as it leads to some clear decisions and commitments by both the Congress and the White House.

"However, that is not a task for today.  Today, we pause to remember the crew of STS-107 and to offer our condolences to all who loved them.  Ispeak today not just as a Member of Congress, but as part of a community that firmly believes in what Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Blair and Ilan Ramon gave their lives for.  On behalf of the 9th District of Texas and the people ofJohnson Space Center, I urge this country and this body to go forward, and I urge my colleagues to join me in support of H Res 507."

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