The National Space Society vision is people living and working in space

February 1, 2003

Executive Director, National Space Society

WASHINGTON, DC—The National Space Society expresses its profound sorrow at the loss of the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia today. Although all astronauts volunteer for what they know is a potentially hazardous job, no one is ever fully prepared for loss of life, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of the crew as the world mourns this tragic loss. The crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia are true heroes and will long be held dear in our hearts and minds.

There is a crew onboard the International Space Station as we speak, however, and that crew relies on the capabilities of the Space Shuttle fleet for propulsion and to ferry crew and cargo. Although a careful and methodical investigation must be conducted, it is vital that NASA move as quickly as possible to safely resume flying the Space Shuttle fleet to support ISS. Additionally, the Bush Administration should work quickly to replace the lost launch capability represented by Columbia, whether that means a building a replacement Orbiter or a new reusable launch vehicle.

Exploration and discovery have always entailed risk, and astronauts embarking on flights to space are fully aware of the risk involved. When faced with the loss of colleagues in the past, those on the front lines of risk—the astronauts themselves—have always called for the continuation of human space exploration and the resumption of operations as quickly as possible. We strongly encourage NASA, the Bush Administration, and Congress to heed their advice and not unduly slow the human exploration of space. The number of people watching the Columbia returning home is a testament to the continuing interest of the American people in human space flight. Let us honor our brave astronauts by continuing this spirit of the human exploration of space.

The National Space Society, formed in 1974 by Wernher von Braun, is an independent, non-profit space advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. Its 23,000 members and over 50 chapters around the world actively promote a spacefaring civilization.

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Brian Chase


(202) 543-1900 (office)
(202) 320-4862 (cell)


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