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Public Statements

Commending NASA on Completion of the Space Shuttle's Second Return-to-Flight Mission

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


COMMENDING NASA ON COMPLETION OF THE SPACE SHUTTLE'S SECOND RETURN-TO-FLIGHT MISSION

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Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to sponsor H.Con.Res 448, a resolution commending the people of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for the latest mission of the Space Shuttle Discovery, and I thank the Science Committee and the House leadership for their assistance in bringing this resolution to the floor.

Successfully launched on July 4th, this mission, known as STS-121, marks the second mission of the return-to-flight sequence. STS-121 originally was scheduled to perform just two space walks. However, due to the overall success of the launch, the mission was extended from 12 days to 13 days, allowing for an additional space walk.

Among the tasks that were performed on this mission are tests of shuttle safety improvements to build on findings from Discovery's flight last year, including a redesign of the shuttle's external fuel tank's foam insulation, inflight inspection of the shuttle's heat shield, improved imagery during launch, and the ability to launch a shuttle rescue mission. The external tank, which underwent work during the mission to reduce foam loss, performed well this time, especially early in the flight.

The STS-121 mission also bolstered the international space station by making a key repair and delivering more than 28,000 pounds of equipment and supplies, as well as adding a third crew member to the space station.

STS-121 was NASA's most photographed mission in shuttle history, as more than 100 high definition, digital, video and film cameras assessed whether any debris comes off the external tank during the shuttle's launch.

Mr. Speaker, the success of STS-121 is a tribute to the skills and dedication of all NASA employees, especially the Space Shuttle Discovery crew of Colonel Steve Lindsey, Commander Mark Kelly, Piers Sellers, Ph.D., Lieutenant Colonel Mike Fossum, Commander Lisa Nowak, Stephanie Wilson and Thomas Reiter.

I would like now to close with a particular quote that is very pertinent for what we are doing here with this resolution. This comes from a famous author of the last century, who might have been one of the most famous, who wrote a book that many Members of this Congress may well have read. The interesting thing about this quote, it comes from an individual who was not much in favor of big government. As a matter of fact, she was in favor of very, very limited government, and she introduced the ideas of libertarianism to millions of Americans.

But nevertheless, it just happened that NASA was her favorite government agency, and therefore after the Moon landing in 1979 she wrote very favorably about NASA, which in some ways contradicted her philosophy, but it also spoke to the tremendous brilliance and success of the Moon exploration program.

That author that I want to quote is the author of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, who wrote this shortly after the Moon landing in 1969. And although this is written in praise of the Moon landing, it applies to all those individuals who participated in STS-121.

The quote goes this way: ``Think of what was required to achieve that mission. Think of the unpitying effort; the merciless discipline; the courage; the responsibility of relying on one's judgment; the days, nights and years of unswerving dedication to a goal; the tension of an unbroken maintenance of a full, clear mental focus and honesty. It took the highest, sustained acts of virtue to create in realty what had only been dreamt of for millennia.''

I encourage all my colleagues and all Americans to join me in commending NASA for completing this mission and all of NASA's work.

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http://thomas.loc.gov

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