The five astronauts who flew the space shuttle Discovery mission earlier this month were welcomed as heroes in Congress on Thursday and congratulated for the “great feeling you have given all Americans.”
In response, flight commander Frederick H. Hauck said the successful four-day mission was “tremendous testimony to a very large team throughout the country.”
Hauck and the other crew members--pilot Richard O. Covey and mission specialists John M. Lounge, David C. Hilmers and George D. Nelson--first made an appearance in the House gallery to the applause of members on the floor, and then before space committees of the House and Senate.
‘Made Us Very Proud’
“You made us very proud of you,” said Rep. Manuel Lujan Jr. (R-N.M.), who is retiring from Congress after years of service on the House Science and Technology Committee of which he was ranking minority member.
“It wasn’t just a routine flight this time,” Lujan said. “We all breathed a great sigh of relief when you finally got into orbit. We thank you for the great feeling you have given all Americans.”
The House passed a resolution Wednesday congratulating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the flight crew and NASA’s workers and contractors “who contributed to the successful return of the space shuttle Discovery to safe operations in outer space.”
The House committee presented each crew member with a framed copy of the resolution. The astronauts showed a brief film of their flight.
Extensive Revisions Made
The Discovery flight, which began on Sept. 29, was the first shuttle mission since the shuttle Challenger blew up on liftoff with a loss of seven lives on Jan. 28, 1986. Extensive revisions were made in the shuttle program before the Discovery flight.
Richard H. Truly, the head of NASA’s shuttle program, spoke of “this magnificent and extremely successful mission,” adding, “We in NASA . . . have accomplished what we said we would accomplish.”
The successful outcome, he said, “showed this was not a first flight; this was a mature system that flew again after a long down-time.”
And, he said, “the best part is that we have to do it again.”