The partisanship surrounding space exploration and the retrenching of U.S. space policy are part of a more general trend: the decline of science in the United States. As its interest in science wanes, the country loses ground to the rest of the industrialized world in every measure of technological proficiency.
I'm really hopeful about the future of space exploration and human spaceflight. Civilization as we know it has been defined by exploration. You know, we need to go off and find out what's around the next corner and what's just beyond what we already know. It's part of our being; it's part of our moral fiber to go off and explore.
I am deeply grieved by the loss of the crew of Columbia. I express my sincere condolences to the families and friends of the astronauts. I believe that their names will remain as the bright sparkling stars in the universe and will light the way for those who will follow them on the difficult roads of space exploration.