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White House Press Briefing 26 July 2005 (NASA Excerpt)

Status Report From: White House
Posted: Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Full transcript

1:16 P.M. EDT

MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon, everybody. Let me begin with a statement by the President.

"On behalf of all Americans, I wish the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery a safe and successful mission. Today's launch marks NASA's return to flight, following the tragic loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia crew in February 2003. I thank the men and women of NASA who have dedicated themselves to putting our space program back on track. Our space program is a source of great national pride, and this flight is an essential step toward our goal of continuing to lead the world in space science, human space flight, and space exploration."

The President, earlier today, did catch the launch. He was watching it from his private dining room next to the Oval Office. The President took a moment to applaud after the launch and reflect on what an exciting day this is for all of us, to see the space shuttle return to flight.

And with that, I'll be glad to go to your questions.

Q Scott, in the post-launch press conference, NASA officials said that they welcomed the Discovery's return to space and sort of renewing the vigor of the space program, the ultimate goal of which would be to land a crew on Mars. Would you like to comment on that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Sure. That's -- the President outlined a vision, a long-term vision, for our space program, and NASA is working on moving forward on that vision that he outlined. The President --

Q So the President supports a Mars mission?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, this is a long-term mission that the President outlined, John, so I think you have to look at the overall perspective in what the President said. But he wanted to make sure that there's a clearly defined mission for our space program, and there is. And he believes it's important to continue to advance space exploration and for the United States to continue to lead the way. And that's what we are doing, and today's launch is an important first step to put us back on track.

Q And how is the Mars program going?

MR. McCLELLAN: NASA can probably update you on the effort. Again, this is a long-term program, and you can sit there and smirk about it, but the President felt it was important -- (laughter) -- the President felt it was important to outline a clearly defined mission for NASA. And we're all excited about today's launch and we wish the --

Q Will he be speaking about it --

MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on -- we wish the crew all the best.

Q Will he be speaking about it --

MR. McCLELLAN: NASA is working on implementing it, John. Thanks for starting out the briefing on such -- (laughter.)

Q Thought maybe you missed me.

// end //

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