From: White House
Posted: Friday, August 5, 2005
Q Thank you, Mr. President. The Discovery Space Shuttle mission has been dominated by repairs and questions about safety. Do you think the return to space was premature? And are you worried about Discovery's return next week?
PRESIDENT BUSH: First of all, I had the honor of speaking to the -- the folks of -- that are on that mission. And it was a great experience to be talking to bold explorers. And, secondly, like a lot of Americans, I was amazed at the procedures that took place to repair the craft. It's pretty remarkable. I believe that -- I believe that the mission is important, and I know that the mission directors will make the right decision about how to proceed.
Ours is a country that values the safety of our citizens, particularly those we ask to take risk in space. And there will be a lot of deliberation, a lot of thought that goes into the decision as to whether or not those brave souls can -- should return on that vehicle. And I know that NASA has been very closely in touch with the White House. Andy Card has been in touch with the Administrator on a regular basis. But I've got the confidence -- all the confidence that they will make the right decision.
Let me also say that it is important for our fellow citizens to understand that we're going to take the NASA mission beyond the current mission, that we'll be using -- we want -- the plan right now is to phase out the shuttle by 2010, and then begin to put a strategy in place that will use the moon as a launching spot for further exploration.
I know the -- at least the people I've talked to inside NASA are excited about the mission, the reinvigoration of the vision of exploration. And I appreciate the Administrator working on getting that strategy in place, so that when the decision is made to finally get rid of this phase of exploration, we'll be ready to take on the new phase. And that's important for the American people to understand, that, one, exploration is important; two, there will be some good coming out of exploration; and, three, that we've got a new vision embraced by NASA and its pioneers.
// end //