WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House of Representatives today approved a resolution (H.Res.507), sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), and cosponsored by Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and several other members of the House Science Committee, in honor of the Columbia astronauts.  The resolution expresses, “the profound sorrow of the House of Representatives on the anniversary of the accident that cost the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia their lives, and extend[s] heartfelt sympathy to their families.” 

Rep. Burgess stated, “When Columbia broke-up in the Texas sky on the morning of February 1, 2003, the 7 astronauts aboard her were 16 minutes from home…sixteen minutes from completion of a successful mission…sixteen minutes from seeing their loved ones.  Knowing full well the dangers of space flight, they faced them willingly. Because of their courage, we will miss them all the more.  Our sympathies go out to the grieving families.  It is a privilege to stand here today to honor the sacrifices of these brave space explorers.”

“Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, Ilan Ramon.  One year after their tragic deaths, their names remain seared in our national memory,” said Chairman Boehlert. “Our Nation’s space program is built on the dreams and aspirations of an exploring people willing to take risks.  This Congress is proud of our explorers – those who have returned, and those few whom fate has held back. With this resolution we honor the seven men and women who flew the shuttle Columbia’s final fateful mission.  They will never be forgotten.”

“The sorrow expressed by the House today on the loss of Columbia’s crew expresses the sorrow our nation feels at the loss of these seven heroic men and women.  They were explorers who advanced our knowledge.  Their courage and thirst for discovery inspires us still, and this resolution reminds us that we can only really honor them by continuing the journey they began,” added Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Ranking Member Bart Gordon (D-TN).

“The Columbia astronauts were heroes — they were aware of the risks for space travel, but allowed their sense of mission and duty to outstrip their fears.  Today, we memorialize the deeds of these brave men and women, and assure their families that we will never forget the courage of the loved ones they lost.  The story of our Columbia crew will encourage a new legacy of space exploration that will be inspired by the actions of these bold men and women,” said Subcommittee Chairman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

Subcommittee on Environment, Technology and Standards Chairman Vernon J. Ehlers, (R-MI) stated, “The loss of the Columbia was a profound tragedy. However, as we go forward with new missions, the Columbia crew’s passion and dedication to science and exploration will serve as a lasting example to the space program and the nation.”

“I believe that it is important that we never forget the sacrifices made by the brave and dedicated men and women of STS-107.  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 of Columbia, 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,” said Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Ranking Member Nick Lampson (D-TX).  “I believe that 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.”

“A year ago, seven astronauts took an important scientific assignment knowing the risks involved, but recognized that this mission was not only a service to the nation, but to all of humanity.  My thoughts and prayers are with all of their families as we remember these brave men and women, and their commitment to space exploration,” stated Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA).

“The Columbia astronauts died serving their nation. Their lives, their sacrifice, symbolize our nation’s grand aspirations and its greatness. Americans honor their sacrifice and our thoughts are with their families as we mark this sad anniversary,” added Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA). 

“Last year’s tragedy is a reminder of the courage and commitment of our NASA flight crews and support teams – we should always be proud of their heroism and patriotism,” said Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT).  “The seven astronauts who lost their lives in the spirit of exploration will not be forgotten, and the mission to which they dedicated their lives must continue. We owe to their memory and to their families’ sacrifice a renewed dedication to an American presence in space.”

Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) stated, “This resolution reassures the loved ones of Columbia’s crew that last year’s loss will strengthen this Nation’s resolve to continue the journey of discovery in space.  Both NASA and President Bush have demonstrated commitment to exploration and devotion to the human space program.  It is my hope that the House will carry out this pledge in the weeks ahead.”

“Today the U.S. House of Representatives honors the memory of seven heroic astronauts who lost their lives on Columbia Space Shuttle one year ago.  This tragedy struck West Texans hard because we lost two of our own-Rick Husband and William McCool.  I would like to extend my heartfelt prayers to the families who lost loved ones that infamous day in history.  Please know that their ultimate sacrifice will strengthen this Nation’s determination to continue our journey in space,” said Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX).