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Space Shuttle Columbia

Service honors dreams of Columbia crew

Cheney:
Cheney: "The Columbia is lost, but the dreams that inspired its crew remain with us."

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Vice President Dick Cheney reflects on the seven astronauts who died aboard the space shuttle Columbia in a memorial service at Washington's National Cathedral. (February 6)
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney and NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe vowed Thursday that America's space exploration and the dreams of Columbia's "daring souls" would go forward.

Both men spoke at the National Cathedral during a memorial service for the seven astronauts who died Saturday aboard the space shuttle Columbia minutes before the craft was to land.

"We are here to honor the memory of seven lost explorers," Cheney said.

"While many memorials will be built to honor Columbia's crew, their greatest memorial will be a vibrant space program with new missions carried out by a new generation of brave explorers," Cheney said.

"Every great act of exploration involves a great risk. The crew of the Columbia accepted that risk and serviced all of mankind. The Columbia is lost, but the dreams that inspired its crew remain with us.

"Those dreams are carried by the families of those astronauts who, even in grief, have urged that America go on with our space program," Cheney said.

O'Keefe said that to be an astronaut is to accept a lofty calling. The "seven daring souls" the nation grieves for "represent the best of the human spirit," he said.

A piece of the lunar surface brought to Earth by the first men on the moon, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, is encased at the National Cathedral. O'Keefe noted its presence in the edifice.

"This reminds us that the exploration of space will go on, propelled by the human urge to strive, to seek, to find, and not yield."

O'Keefe praised the nation's support and the bravery of families of the Columbia crew, who he said "have been rocks of courage and dignity."

He promised NASA would find the cause of the Columbia tragedy, correct the problems and move safely forward with its work to explore the universe.

"We will not let you down," he said.


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