This is the text of the Message of Condolence sent by the Prime Minister, John Howard, to the United States.
MESSAGE OF CONDOLENCE FOR THE LOSS OF THE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA
On behalf of all Australians, I wish to extend to the American people my deepest condolences for the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia and her crew over the skies of Texas on 1 February. Our thoughts today are with the families and loved ones of those who perished.
This is a tragedy that affects us all. Space exploration is a universal endeavour which the United States has taken forward on behalf of all mankind. In this spirit, Columbia provided a platform for vigorous international scientific collaboration on a number of important projects. Columbia was also carrying an experiment designed by Melbourne schoolchildren, the latest chapter in a long Australian involvement in the shuttle programme.
Over the past two years the United States has faced unexpected adversity with a steady determination not to be cowed but to overcome. I have no doubt that America’s commitment to the exploration of space and its possibilities for all humanity will not be undone by this setback.