Busquin praises Columbia crew's commitment to scientific progress

February 4, 2003

Brussels, 03 Feb 2003

EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin has paid tribute to the seven astronauts killed in the Columbia space shuttle accident and emphasised how much scientific progress owes to such committed men and women.

The Columbia was returning from its 28th mission when it broke up over Texas in the US. Returning in the shuttle were one Israeli and six US astronauts. The experiments carried out by the crew included investigations into combustion, soot production and fire quenching, combating prostate cancer and encapsulating anti-cancer drugs to improve their efficiency.

'The crew of Columbia was coming back from an important scientific expedition which was a major success. This tragedy reminds us cruelly that the space conquest is a high-risk activity and that there is no progress in the space field without the courage, intelligence and determination of people who, such as the crew of Columbia, are fully committed in the space adventure and love what they do,' said Mr Busquin.

Commission President Romano Prodi has sent condolences to US President George Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, on behalf of the European Union. 'I'm shocked by the tragic loss of seven crew members in the space shuttle Columbia. Their scientific work was of benefit to all of humanity,' said Mr Prodi.

For further information on the Columbia accident, please visit:

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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