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Crapo: Columbia Crew "True Heroes"

Sends condolences to families, IdahoĆ¢??s Educator Astronaut Morgan

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo joined with the nation today in mourning the loss of the crew of the space shuttle Columbia. The shuttle, ending a 16-day science mission, apparently exploded just minutes before its scheduled landing in Texas. Recovery and investigation efforts by NASA are underway. "I join with a stunned nation today as we mourn the loss of the seven-member crew of the space shuttle Columbia," Crapo said. "This tragedy is a far too real reminder of the dangers that exist whenever men and women seek to explore our world and universe. The families, friends and colleagues of the crew members are foremost in my thoughts and prayers. I am particularly mindful of Idaho's own Barbara Morgan, an educator astronaut who is scheduled to fly later this year on a shuttle mission. Barbara and I have met several times and I know how strongly she felt about the promises of space exploration and science. In fact, in a recent visit, we discussed the inherent dangers of space travel, but her enthusiasm was undimmed. She, like the Columbia and Challenger crews and so many others in our space program past and present, is a true hero and a great example to our country. I trust that the Educator Astronaut program will be on track as soon as NASA determines the answers to the difficult questions it faces today. "As with previous tragedies involving the space program, NASA will conduct a thorough investigation and resolve whatever difficulties led to this disaster. Our nation is resilient and resourceful, and we will no doubt learn from this experience and make the space travel program as safe as possible. One of the most valuable ways we can pay tribute to those who gave their lives is to maintain a strong commitment to the space program. We should not lose our resolve to this important exploration. I salute the seven men and women who today demonstrated their willingness and understanding of the risky venture to provide science with avenues to improve our knowledge." Morgan is currently scheduled for a November 13, 2003, flight. That announcement was made last month by NASA. Shortly after that announcement, Crapo and Morgan appeared together in December at a news conference and an event at the Discovery Center in Boise. # # #