Columbia: Prodi and Busquin statements

February 4, 2003

Brussels, 2 February 2003

After the dramatic accident of the space shuttle Columbia, Philippe Busquin, Commissioner responsible for Research, offered his sympathy to the families of the astronauts who died in this tragedy, as well as to the NASA. He paid tribute to the crew and recalled to what extent the conquest of space and scientific progress owe to men and women committed with passion to this adventure. He also pointed out the importance of solidarity and space co-operation at world level for the manned space flights.

Philippe Busquin more particularly greeted the courage of men and of women who risk their life for research and science progress. " 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 ".

Philippe Busquin also stressed the importance of solidarity and co-operation at world level for this type of project, as underlined in the recent European Commission Green Paper on European space policy ( IP/03/82 ). " We must continue all together our work and rely on each other to go ahead in this fantastic human adventur e " he said.

President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, expressed on Saturday his sympathy for the victims and their families of the space shuttle breaking-up. President Prodi said he had sent a message to George Bush, President of the United States of America, and Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister of Israël. " 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 " he said. " Europeans share your loss and mourn with their families and all your people " he added.

DN: IP/03/165 Date: 03/02/2003

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