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Exploration - The Fire of the Human Spirit
A Tribute – To Fallen Astronauts and Cosmonauts


STS-114 Commander Eileen Collins:
Those who dare to venture into an unexplored land will have revealed to them things which were never known.
Those who venture out upon the sea will have revealed to them things never heard.
But those who venture into the sky upon wings of silence…….
Yes, the ethereal adventurers…..
Theirs is the revelation of things never dreamed!
Such are the ways of explorers
And the surpassing way of the sky.

STS-114 Pilot Jim Kelly:
As we orbit the Earth today, we are able to watch the beauty of the Earth and heavens unfurl before us as we undertake this journey. And we are reminded that it is upon the completion of the journey and the arrival back at the place from whence we came that we can say we truly know ourselves. Sadly, there are those who have been challenged by the adventure of human space exploration but who have not been able to experience that special feeling that comes with returning home. These are the men and women who have come before us, in courage, but who did not complete their journey of exploration. It is to these explorers that we now take a moment to reflect upon, and to whom we now pay tribute.

STS-114 Mission Specialist Steve Robinson:
The spirit of exploration is truly part of what it is to be human. Human history has been a continual struggle from darkness toward light, a search for knowledge and deeper understanding, a search for truth. Ever since our distant ancestors ventured forth into the world, there has been an insatiable curiosity to see what lies beyond the next hill, what lies beyond the horizon. That is the fire of the human spirit that we all carry.

Through that spirit and through realizing its ambitions, the human race has come to find its present place in the world. Previous generations went first on foot, then on horseback. Later came the wooden sailing vessels that opened new continents and new lands. Today we have aircraft and space craft. We have shrunk the world in a way that early generations of explorers could never have imagined.

STS-114 Mission Specialist Wendy Lawrence:
Likewise, even if the future is equally unimaginable to us, we can be sure that future generations will look upon our endeavors in space as we look upon those early expeditions across the seas. To those generations, the need to explore space will be as self evident as the need previous generations felt to explore the Earth and the Seas.

As President Kennedy said of space exploration:

"Space is there and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and planets are there and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked."

"We choose to do these things ... not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

And, certainly, space exploration is not easy, and there has been a human price that has been paid. As we step out into this new frontier we find that it is very unforgiving of our mistakes. The lives lost over thirty years ago with the early steps taken by the crews of Apollo 1, Soyuz 1 and Soyuz 11 vehicles showed us that. The loss of the crew of Challenger reaffirmed the need to be ever vigilant of the risks.

STS-114 Mission Specialist Charlie Camarda:
Tragically, two years ago, we came once more to realize that we had let our guard down. We became lost in our own hubris and learned once more the terrible price that must be paid for our failures. In that accident we not only lost seven colleagues, we lost seven friends. Their families never shared in their homecoming. Those seven were driven by the fire of the human spirit within. They believed in space exploration. They knew the risks, but they believed in what they were doing. They showed us that the fire of the human spirit is insatiable. They knew that in order for a great people to do great things, they must not be bridled by timidity.

Expedition 11 Flight Engineer John Phillips:
To the crew of Columbia, as well as the crews of Challenger, Apollo 1 and Soyuz 1 and 11, and to those who have courageously given so much, we now offer our enduring thanks. From you we will carry the human spirit out into space, and we will continue the explorations you have begun. We will find those new harbors that lie out in the stars and of which you dreamed. We do this not just because we owe it to you, but we do it because we also share your dream of a better world. We share your dream of coming to understand ourselves and our place in this universe. And as we journey into space you will be in our thoughts and will be deeply missed.

STS-114 Mission Specialist Soichi Noguchi:
Previous paragraph repeated in Japanese.

Expedition 11 Commander Sergei Krikalev:
Previous paragraph repeated in Russian.

STS-114 Mission Specialist Andy Thomas:
Not twice may any stand by the same stream,
Not twice possess the years that hasten on;
Something there was we looked on, loved, ‘tis gone
Or stays but as the shadow of a dream.

Hands that we touched clasp ours no more, and eyes
That shone for us as stars withdrew their light;
Voices beloved pass out into the night;
The gift of yesterday, today denies.

Yet we must hold it for a deeper truth,
Nothing that is, but only that which seems
Shall find its dwelling in the place of dreams;
The soul’s possession is eternal youth.

Swift flows the stream, but in it as it flows
The same unchanging stars are mirrored bright.
Swift fly the years, but heedless of their flight
The touch of time, nor love nor friendship knows.

STS-114 Commander Eileen Collins:
And, in closing, for all our lost colleagues, we leave you with this prayer, often spoken for those who have sacrificed themselves for all of us:

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

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