Space Program Must Move Forward
(Austin) - On the morning of Feb. 1, I watched with the rest of the world and waited for news about the Space Shuttle Columbia. Seeing pictures of the shuttle streaking through the skies above Texas, we knew the fate of the seven astronauts aboard without having to hear the official word.
While the Columbia disaster is hard to understand, other than the families of the astronauts and the NASA family, I feel most for the children of the world. They are not yet old enough to understand that progress involves sacrifice, sometimes even the ultimate sacrifice of one's life.
My generation grew up with our space program. Since childhood I have watched as we have continued to expand the horizons of our exploration. In that time I have seen unfortunate tragedies and loss of life. In 1967, three Apollo astronauts perished in a fire while performing a launch pad test. Most of us are old enough to remember the Challenger explosion in 1986 which claimed seven lives, including the first teacher-astronaut.
But the space program has also brought us great heroism. Such as in 1970, when the crew of Apollo XIII successfully brought their craft back to Earth after an explosion forced them to abort their mission.
I have also witnessed great achievements. We have seen automated vehicles roaming the surface of Mars and men walking on the surface of the moon. Because of the space program we have also seen great achievements in science, engineering and medicine that benefit all of us.
The history of our civilization, our nation, and our state is rich with stories of men and women who put freedom, exploration and humanity above any personal consideration. In centuries past, we have geographical explorers such as Columbus, DeSoto, Lewis and Clark, Edmund Hillary, and Robert Scott. But there have also been explorers of different kind: the scientists. There is Galileo, Pasteur, Salk, Cooley and many more.
The astronauts and families knew the risks they were taking. They were willing to take those risks in an effort to make the world a better place to live and to further the cause of humanity.
Let Texans honor their memory by looking forward in all we do, and rededicate ourselves to making this world a better place. We have demonstrated this, and can continue to demonstrate it, by working with authorities to alert them when pieces of the shuttle are found.
This current tragedy will cause us to question and analyze our space program, and that is as it should be. But the space program will, and must, go on. I was encouraged by the words and resolve of President George W. Bush while attending the memorial service in Houston.
"This cause of exploration and discovery is not an option we choose; it is a desire written in the human heart. We are that part of creation which seeks to understand all creation," President Bush said. "We find the best among us, send them forth into unmapped darkness, and pray they will return. They go in peace for all mankind, and all mankind is in their debt."
I encourage you to visit NASA to learn more about their mission, their history, and their plans for the future. A wealth of information is available by viewing their website (www.nasa.gov), or by writing them at NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC, 20546.
Please contact my office to discuss this, or any other issue. To contact Sen. Deuell about the legislative process, contact the Capitol Office at (512) 463-0102 or mail to Sen. Bob Deuell, Texas Senate, P.O. Box 12068, Austin, TX 78711. The website for the Texas Senate is www.Senate.state.tx.us. The e-mail address for Sen. Deuell is: email@example.com.