WASHINGTON – Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Science and Space, today made the following statement commemorating the third anniversary of the Shuttle Columbia tragedy:

“While we understand the inherent risk of exploring the unknown, all Americans felt the sad loss of seven brave astronauts on February 1, 2003.  On this day, we pay respect to every space explorer who took great risk to help improve the quality of life for all.  We must continue to reduce risk by learning from mistakes and meeting the highest standards of excellence in flight safety.  The successful Shuttle Discovery Return to Flight mission should serve as a tribute to their service and help our nation look forward with an optimistic and positive vision for space exploration.”   

The full Senate has approved legislation Sen. Hutchison introduced on February 1, 2005, the second anniversary of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.  The Columbia Space Shuttle Memorials Act of 2005 authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to recognize four memorials under the National Park System on parcels of land in Hemphill, Lufkin, Nacogdoches and San Augustine – communities that received the largest part of Columbia debris.  It also allows the Secretary of the Interior to recommend additional sites in Texas for memorials.  The legislation now awaits approval by the House Subcommittee on National Parks.