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Cheney Lauds Mars Rover Mission During JPL Visit

Times Staff Writer

Vice President Dick Cheney praised the scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena for the success of their Mars Spirit rover, saying Wednesday that “people all across the country, indeed, around the world, are thrilled and inspired by your work.”

“The Spirit mission is showing your ingenuity in its absolute highest form,” the vice president told several hundred JPL employees gathered at the steps of the facility. “You have landed a 5-foot-tall Rover on a harsh planet over 100 million miles away, and already we are receiving pictures and data that have changed our conception of Mars.”

On Wednesday, President Bush outlined an ambitious program for future space exploration, and Cheney got a briefing about the Mars program, whose success clearly buoyed the scientists.

“The president and I appreciate the outstanding work performed by everyone at the JPL,” Cheney said. “You are using your talent and your dedication for the benefit of your country and all mankind.”

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The vice president visited the mission control center for the rover program, where mission manager Jennifer Trosper described in detail plans to begin rolling the explorer away from its landing site early this morning. The chief engineer, Joel Krajewski, presented Cheney with a Mars watch that keeps to the 24-hour, 39.5-minute Martian day.

JPL director Charles Elachi said, “I want to tell you how honored we are by your presence here and by the encouragement you are giving us, and how uplifted we are with the president’s exploration initiative.”

To cheers, Elachi announced that JPL’s website had received 2.5 billion hits since Spirit landed Jan 3.


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