International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

February 6, 2003

February 6, 2003




**  The "catastrophe" was a "tragedy not only for the U.S. but for all of humanity."

**  Some alleged the accident stemmed from U.S. "government's stinginess."

**  The "drive to conquer space will go on" as it has brought the world "immense benefits." 

**  Some carped that the Columbia disaster proves "America's hyperpower is fallible."   



The astronauts exemplified the 'true spirit of international cooperation'--  Many outlets emphasized the astronauts served "not only the U.S., but all mankind."  Israeli and Indian dailies in particular supported space flight's ability to "enrich us with comprehensive insight."  Tel Aviv's pluralist Maariv said the U.S.' space program symbolizes all humanity's "tremendous urge to break through borders."  Several underlined space travel's universality:  South Africa's liberal Natal Witness termed it a "measure of human aspiration," while the rightist Pakistan Observer said its "scientific research" provides benefits to humanity.


The 'Columbia catastrophe' occurred because 'NASA lacks funding'--  Some dailies stressed the U.S. government's "stinginess...towards NASA."  Italy's influential La Repubblica said the space agency's credibility "has been deathly injured" in part due to the "wolves at the Pentagon" seeking to "militarize" it.  Several Indian dailies agreed the U.S. "has been focusing more on defense-related space activities than on...peaceful purposes."  Brazil's right-of-center O Globo noted the tragedy raises "new doubts about NASA's competence," while Russia's reformist Vremya MN said NASA's leaders "sacrificed safety to savings." 


Most hailed the U.S.' 'determination and resolution'--  Many papers hoped "one accident...will not put man's effort to know the unknown on hold."  Britain's liberal Guardian said that "for once, Mr. Bush spoke for the world" when he promised to continue manned space flight.  Asian dailies agreed that "tragedies of such nature will not deter man" from "continuing the space odyssey."  Chinese papers praised the "imperishable noble spirit of space heroes."  Hong Kong's pro-PRC Ta Kung Pao declared the tragedy "will not shake up or halt progress" as China's "first manned spaceship...will launch and return safely" this year.


Some stressed the blow to U.S. 'hubris' that it can 'control everything'--  Many European outlets acknowledged U.S. grief over the tragedy, but termed it a "lesson in humility America should ponder."  Britain's liberal Independent noted "there can be no harm" if the U.S. acknowledges "limits to its power."  German, Russian and Belgian papers criticized manned space flight's "enormous expenditures," saying they are "neither reasonable nor...produce any useful results."  Some linked the tragedy to Iraq, noting the U.S.' "hubris" that it can "form the world according to its will and notions."  Pakistani dailies called it a "divine warning" against any "self-imposed war." 

EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 85 reports from 25 countries over 2 - 6 February 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Follow After"


The liberal Guardian expressed this view (2/3):  "America has the power to divide the world.  But it also has the power to unite it.  Addressing Americans only a few hours after the loss of the space shuttle Columbia on Saturday,  President Bush vowed that the seven members of the crew who lost their lives had travelled in the service of all humanity and pledged that mankind's journey into space will go on. For once, Mr. Bush spoke for the world when he said both these things."


"A Space Tragedy That Reminds Us Of The Limits To Human Endeavor"


The liberal Independent commented (2/3):  "The death toll in the Columbia shuttle disaster was smaller than that counted every day on Britain's roads and yet the world stopped to mourn and wonder.  As with the explosion of the shuttle Challenger 17 years ago, it is a moment that reaches far beyond the grief of the families of those involved.  An event of this kind is bound to give pause for thought about the costs and benefits of space exploration.  It is likely to mark a further stage in coming to terms with the limits of human endeavor.   Much of that has happened, of course, in the scaling back since the excitement of the moon landings--no one seriously imagines now that they were the prelude, in anything but the longest term, to human colonization of space.  The romance is fading.  If that contributes to a subtle adjustment to the American psyche, it is likely to be for the better. There can be no harm, in the present world situation, in the US coming to terms with the idea of limits to its power."


FRANCE:  “The Dream Never Dies”


Jean-Paul Mulot wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (2/3):  “The tragedy that touched America over the weekend affects us deeply, without knowing exactly why....  In a world where we have stopped counting the number of victims from massacres and other tragedies, the death of these seven astronauts chills us....  Our thoughts go to America....  An America that seems marked by fate....  The dream has dimmed but it will live again. We are sure of it. President Bush said so.”


“Dreams And Nightmares”


Bruno Frappat observed in Catholic La Croix (2/3):  “On Saturday with the shuttle Columbia, as in 1986 with Challenger, the tragedy brought home the truth about the danger and the heroism lying behind these pseudo-routine missions....  The astronauts who are ready to give their lives to serve science know that technological perfection does not exist. And that ‘zero defect’ which so occupies our minds down on earth is nothing but a lure. For George Bush’s America, behind the end of the shuttle Columbia there is the amazing coincidence of its symbolism in this particular time in history. The U.S. holds the key to war and peace on earth and to power and technological prowess on earth and in space. The interconnection of these two events, the shuttle Columbia and Iraq, should lead us to meditate.”




Jean-Michel Thenard opined in left-of-center Liberation (2/3):  “President Bush’s presidency is not off to a good start to be remembered as a happy period of America’s history. After Sept. 11 it is now suffering one of the biggest tragedies in space history. This will hardly boost America’s morale. As public opinion around the world worries about the consequences of a war against Iraq, many see in this tragedy a bad omen. While the levelheaded rationalists will not adhere to this belief, they will nevertheless note that America’s hyperpower is fallible....  No matter what its degree of knowledge and preparedness, America cannot control everything, dominate everything, predict everything and ward off every danger....  This is a lesson in humility that America should ponder for the future....  President Bush should devote his energies to a new dream for space exploration instead of concentrating on a show of power against Iraq.”


GERMANY:  “Vulnerable America”


Torsten Rieke had this to say in an editorial in business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (2/3):  “Again the TV pictures of a national disaster are engraving in the minds of the Americans....  In his mourning address that had a strong religious slant, President Bush tried to offer consolation rather than give answers....  For the always optimistic and technology-trusting America, the crash of the Columbia is a shock, since the disasters hits the nation at a time when its condition is determined by doubts, concern, and uncertainty.  The aftermath of the terrorist strikes in New York and Washington can still be felt everywhere....  And as resolute as the political leadership in Washington may be, it has not yet emotionally prepared the Americans for a war with possibly many casualties--and many Americans are still not convinced of the need for war....  Following the tragedy from Saturday, President Bush will now need even more time and effort to convince the Americans of the need for war in Iraq.  Thus far, the president has relied on his strategists in the Pentagon who are promising a quick victory with minor losses.  If everything runs according to plan, the Americans will follow their president.  If it fails, and the Columbia crash shows that, despite the best planning and technology, something can go wrong, the Americans will then wonder: how could this happen? Why was it not prevented?”


“The Disaster And The War”


Frank Herold noted in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (2/3):  “No U.S. president had to proclaim so many bad news during peaceful times...and now the Columbia disaster.  It is an accident but seems like a symbol:  On the eve of a war, whose victorious strategy is solely based on the technical superiority of the United States, one of its greatest prestige objects failed.  Of course, the Columbia disaster has no connection with the political and economic problems of the United States.  But the accumulation of bad news over in the past months will certainly have a deep psychological effect on the Americans which the president cannot simply ignore with a ‘We will continue!’   In their sum, these problems are nurturing the massively existing doubts among the Americans that the government is on a right track and setting the right goals.  And following the disaster, this question must be raised again: Why is this war necessary now, and why is it inevitable to wage war against Iraq?  Why is nothing more important for George W. Bush?  Will Colin Powell now in a situation of deep national sadness still try to get support for war?  Can there be sound arguments that could convince the Americans to be willing to tolerate even greater pain and suffering?  Or will there be a new thinking like in the first days following 9/11?  The thinking about the hybris that is embedded in the idea that the government of the United States could form the world according to its will and its notions?”


“Too Early Into Outer Space”


Patrick Illinger declared in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (2/3):  “It is time to wonder what mankind sees in it to sit down in a tube that is filled with explosives, fly a few hundred kilometers into outer space and to orbit earth with a speed of 28,000 kilometers per hour?  The answer is speculative, since manned space flights are neither reasonable nor do they produce any useful results.  Stomachs of starving persons have never been filled with them and no sick person has ever been healed.  This is a science, whose only purpose is to explore itself....  Today, every cent that is used for outer space is a waste of money....  The saddest piece of human omnipower imagination orbits earth and is threatened by dire straits and by becoming an orphan.  The international space station ISS is nothing but a billion dollar and anachronistic documentation of the former East-West conflict that was settled more than ten years ago.  All nations that have a share in the ISS should get their people out of the ISS and lock the doors.”


“Blow To The West”


Gerhard Hegmann observed in business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg (2/3):  “This is the second great setback for NASA after the loss of the ‘Challenger.’  However, the new crash is even more significant.  The shockwaves are likely to affect most national space programs because projects have become more and more international since the end of the Cold War.  It is already clear that the construction of the ISS, symbol of peaceful space exploration, cannot be continued as planned....  Anyone who believes that the Americans will now reduce their efforts is wrong.  The space program has always played an important political role in the United States.  Moreover, the U.S. military is highly interested in having a functioning space program.”


ITALY:  “The Announced Death”


Vittorio Zucconi opined on the front-page of left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (2/4):  “They were talking, but they were dead already, without knowing it. The crew of the Shuttle Columbia was not killed on February 1st...but 16 days earlier, as soon as the shuttle took off....  The 16 days on board of the shuttle were only the final pilgrimage of seven people unaware of their death sentence. But along with them, today, the credibility of the space agency that for 42 years had conquered our unconditional trust, admiration and gratitude has also been  deathly injured....  Space exploration is an inherently risky activity, and the astronauts who board the shuttles know it better than anyone else. But security margins are too reduced because of budget cuts and the risk, which went up proportionally to the stinginess in the struggle to keep in flight a fleet and a program with no future. The aging of the fleet, the government’s stinginess, the anxiousness to defend themselves from the wolves at the Pentagon trying to militarize NASA, pushed the agency to take on more and more risks, thus risking to play a game in which the people on board have no way out if the ‘coup de roulette’ does not work.”


“This Time The NASA Has To Tell The Truth”


Giampaolo Pioli declared in conservative, top-circulation syndicate La Nazione/Il Resto del Carlino/Il Giorno (2/4): “17 years ago with the tragedy of the Challenger, NASA chose to keep quiet about the astronauts’ deaths....  Today, with this new tragedy, the space agency is again under accusation but it has changed attitude and promised it will shed light and tell the whole truth, even if it is an unpleasant truth. It must do so not only for the victims’ families...but also for the rest of the world which relies on American carriers....  Today it was a thermo tile, tomorrow it could be something else. Total safety does not exist. But it has been two years since...the American Administration  increased flight safety funds. It did not even increase NASA’s budget to keep it in line with the inflation rate. The NASA budget has remained unchanged since 1998. Yesterday, President Bush signed an increase of one-half billion dollars....  If the causes of the explosion are due to the fact that the heat resistant tiles were damaged on both sides of the wing, NASA’s truth will be very tough: Columbia was condemned as soon as it lifted off. For 16 days, its seven astronauts were unaware they were dead and walking in space.”


“The Twilight Of The Technological Dream”


Eugenio Scalfari’s front-page analysis in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica read (2/2):  “The space shuttle disaster casts a doubt on the myth on which the remaining certainties of our era are based--the myth of technology, of its mathematical perfection, of the dominion that man exerts on nature bending it to his needs, his dreams and his desires.  As it happened, this sudden technological defeat occurred right at the time when a war entirely based on technology is about to begin--a technology that should be capable of reducing to a minimum, if not abolish completely, the loss of human lives both among the troops fighting the war and among civilians....  But can we really trust technology?  Will it pass the test?  Will we have, as we are being told, the first bloodless war in the history of our planet, so far characterized by epochal massacres and endless death?  The space shuttle explosion hit the technological certainties of the (U.S.) empire right at their heart.  A new sense of uncertainty is weighing on all of us since yesterday.”


“The Tragedy And Its Symbols”


 Gianni Riotta commented in centrist, influential Corriere della Sera (2/2):  “Investigations into the Columbia space shuttle disaster will not be carried out by elegant physicists, but by Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge.  This is not a terrorist attack, no ground-air missile, in fact, could strike at such height and speed, but U.S. law in the wake of the September 11 attacks obliges the anti-terrorism czar to be the first one to investigate....  President Bush looked tense, tired and older on television.  The next time he goes on television to address the nation it will probably be to declare war on Iraq.  Poor America, one is led to say, poor Israel, poor Palestine, poor Iraqis, poor Shuttle astronauts and poor us, all of us, the indigenous of 2003.”


“America Will React”


A front-page analysis by Boris Biancheri in centrist, influential La Stampa observed (2/3):  “The attack on the twin towers turned the Bush Administration’s tendency to ignore world affairs into a sudden aggressiveness and hyper-activity which is aimed--in addition to objectives that are clearly connected with terrorism--also to other hostile targets which, however, as far as we know, cannot be directly linked with international terrorism, such as Iraq.  Then a second shock came: the awareness, which leaves a majority of Americans still astonished, of the feelings of dislike towards America that exist in a large part of the world, even among its allies, even among those who owe their current economic prosperity, freedom and democracy to America....  The space shuttle disaster is now shaking a third pillar of U.S. psychology: the pillar of America’s technological supremacy and organizational superiority.  And this comes at a very delicate moment, when the prospects for a quick and effective  military intervention in Iraq are based precisely on technological and organizational supremacy.  It is easy to predict, however, that, after an initial reaction of dismay, the Americans will react to this new psychological test like they did in the case of the first two, i.e., by flexing muscles and not by withdrawing.”


RUSSIA:  "U.S. Space Concept Crashes"


Viktor Myasnikov wrote in reformist Vremya MN (2/4):  "The loss of Columbia is a global tragedy, not one of the United States and Israel alone.   But this is no end of man's quest for a new area of habitat.   Space flights involve risk and responsibility.   A lack of the latter must be the cause of the disaster, as NASA's leaders sacrificed safety to saving and sought to get rid of those who disagreed with their policy....  But admit their defeat the Americans will not.   Instead, they may step up work on a new shuttle and a rescue spacecraft for the ISS....  It is unlikely that the United States and Europe will freeze their space programs, leaving thousands without jobs and suspending the development of new technologies.   So they will have to share funds with Russia's aviation and space agency.   With Russian help, the Europeans can make headway in space exploration and ITV construction.   Also, now is a propitious time for China to put a man in outer space."


"Only Russia Can Save ISS"


Yuri Sigov and Dmitriy Babich said in reformist weekly Moskovskiye Novosti (2/4):  "The U.S. Congress is known for its antipathy to Russia's military industrial complex.   The United States even grudgingly accepted Russian carrier rockets to launch its earth satellites and imposed quotas on their use, afraid that the Russians might steal its technological secrets. The future of the ISS and global space industry depends on whether Congress is able to overcome that kind of attitude."


"New Blow To U.S.' Prestige"


Nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya editorialized (2/4):  "The crash of Columbia is a blow to the space industry in the United States and the world.   It is more damage to the United States' prestige now that it has suffered considerably because of terrorist attacks, economic troubles, and other 'man-made' calamities.   All those clearly point to a crisis.   Politically, it is not so important what happened scores of kilometers above the Earth....  Columbia's last flight is more evidence of a crisis in the United States.   It will remain news Number One until CNN begins reporting live about a new tragedy, Iraq.  Evidently, Bush hopes that a victory will oust the nation's bitter memories of its latest failures.  Who knows?  The loss of the seven astronauts, respected and loved by all in their countries, might be a grim warning for Bush's America."


"It's More Than An American Tragedy"


Centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta stated (2/3):  "The future of the international space station, as well as that of Russia's space program, which is oriented mostly to servicing the ISS, are in question because of the Columbia tragedy.   The death of the seven astronauts and Columbia itself is a real disaster for the United States' space policy.   And not only for it."


"How Justified Is Risk?"


Sergey Leskov declared in reformist Izvestiya (2/3):  "Manned space flights have fallen short of their aims, according to veteran Russian cosmonaut Konstantin Feoktistov.  All they have accomplished is additional engineering experience.  There have been no scientific discoveries or technological breakthroughs.   Nothing except enormous expenditures.   If there is any use in space exploration, it comes from automatic equipment. Some time in the future people may be of use, too, but now they have no business being there....  Just like any other area of human endeavor, the space industry faces the problem of the goals that mankind sets itself and the price it is willing to pay as it strives for them....  Given the current state of affairs in the space industry, there is nothing to justify human presence in outer space.   It is hugely expensive...and involves great risks....  The third millennium is a new dimension.  The space industry needs a thought-out strategy.   There will always be a risk in space flights, but humanity needs to know the price it has to pay for it."


"Europe, Japan, Russia Can't Do Without U.S."


Ivan Safronov stated in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (2/3):  "Europe, Japan or Russia can't build or run the ISS without the United States.   Not even if they pool efforts will they be able to continue work on the project....   The United States' national security in space is in jeopardy.   Even though George Bush says that Washington is not going to give up the program of manned flights, NASA will have to spend all or almost all of its wherewithal on ascertaining and removing the causes of the disaster and creating an integrated space transportation system."


BELGIUM:  “Space Missions Will Never Be A Routine”


Xavier Ducarme said in independent La Libre Belgique (2/3):  “The completion of the very expensive International Space Station has been constantly called into question. Americans and Russians no longer feel the need to compete in Star Wars. Man has walked on the moon and Mars is a dream that is too remote.  Nowadays, to be worth the money that they are requesting, space agencies must demonstrate that their programs are immediately useful and commercially profitable, or even militarily usable in a country that is exclusively focusing on the fight against terrorism. It seems that there will no longer be room for manned flights, which are very expensive--40 percent of the NASA’s budget--and dangerous. Seven astronauts paid the ultimate price of this.”


“A War To Heal The Blow To The Pride”


Chief editor Didier Hamann editorialized in the Sud Presse group pf papers--conservative La Meuse/La Capitale and La Nouvelle Gazette (2/3):  "One must clearly be afraid that W. Bush decides to promptly avenge this stroke of bad luck by boosting the morale of a bruised nation with an easy war in Iraq--supposing that this war was still avoidable.  It is when it is hurt in its martial pride that America is the most dangerous. Did the Columbia explosion ruin the last hopes of peace in Iraq?”


"A Lesson?"


Foreign affairs writer Koenraad Nijssen opined in conservative Christian Democrat Het Belang van Limburg (2/3):  “In the current climate of worldwide anti-Americanism, some wondered whether this (tragedy) was a lesson for ‘American arrogance’--an arrogance that makes the United States seek full control not only over space but also over the Middle East and the rest of this green planet.  That vision is excessively ideological.  It is more realistic to describe this painful catastrophe as a new lesson in modesty for man who thinks that everything is doable and feasible....  NASA will undoubtedly get over this blow.  Hopefully, all the new scientific knowledge that makes this kind of space travel and experiments possible will make the world a better place--not only for cell-phone using Westerners.  Seven human lives have been lost and their families are in deep grief.  The thoughts of many of us go to them.  Let’s hope that this will not make us forget the misery of other people, in the West and beyond--who could be saved from hunger, disease and death by a fraction of the money that goes to space technology and an anti-missile shield.”


HUNGARY:  “Satan’s Finger, God’s Finger?”


Chief columnist Endre Aczel editorialized in leading Hungarian-language Nepszabadsag (2/3):  “Even Satan himself could not have drafted a worst scenario.  Or, in other words kind to others: even God’s warning finger could not have been raised higher.  According to a French astronaut the Columbia should have been taken out of service a long time ago.  I don't think, by the way, that the Columbia’s tragedy has been fated.  There are other things that are fated. Here is the list of what I have thought of:  There is a nation that is preparing for a war, the American.  One starts to think: how does such a catastrophe help the Americans’ self confidence?  There is a nation preparing for a war whose only ‘true’ ally is Great Britain.  There is a nation preparing for a war whose only ‘true’ friend in the potential war region is Israel.   There is a nation preparing for a war that can’t really be sure of the support of the worlds’ second largest nuclear power, Russia.  All these above, toppled with the Columbia tragedy, are more or less that President Bush has to deal with right now.  But he, as we know, raised his head and conveyed the message to his fellow Americans that space research will continue, although it is not without risk.  He could have said instead that the preparations of a war with Iraq will obviously continue, though it is not without risk. But brave and courageous people, just like the late crew members of the Columbia were, take risks.”


“Space Shuttles Must Carry On”


Liberal Hungarian-language Magyar Hirlap commented (2/3):  "Thousands of years have gone by but the astronauts’ philosophy has not changed: risky space research missions can’t be stopped.  There will be space shuttles and space missions again.  Because they are necessary.  The leadership of the United States, a country that science has made a superpower, is particularly unable to say a lasting ‘no’ to space programs.  However it ended with an irreparable tragedy the space mission of the six young American and the Israeli astronauts has, even if incomplete, contributed tangible results to the world’s science.  Their personal sacrifice has not been in vain.  The data they had been transmitting for weeks are now stored in computers on the land.”


IRELAND:  "Space: A Fatal Frontier"


The conservative, populist Irish Independent editorialized (2/3):  "The Columbia space shuttle disaster was not the first of its kind, and it will not be the last....  We should also echo the sentiments of President George Bush, who responded with dignity and with the right pledge for the future. The programme will be resumed. More men and women will travel into the void....  Even while the Columbia debris still fell across East Texas and Louisiana, voices were raised to question the expertise of NASA, to ask whether safety checks are adequate and whether the programme is sufficiently funded and resourced in terms of manpower and direction. These are questions that must be answered."


NORWAY:  “A Pause For Thought For Space Research?”


Newspaper of record Aftenposten commented (2/4):  “The further complications of the accident [Columbia tragedy] are not totally foreseeable. Especially the psychological consequences. In a country where people almost take it for granted to see the new technological development that will bring the country, people and not least of all the national economy towards new heights, this kind of an accident may give a strong backlash. It might also strengthen doubts among Americans who might believe that  the USA’s plans for a military campaign against Iraq place too much stock in modern technology working flawlessly.”


POLAND:  “Borders Of Safety”


Bronislaw Wildstein wrote in centrist Rzeczpospolita (2/3):  “The catastrophe of the Columbia space shuttle reminds us about the sad reality we so readily forget.  We are not able to foresee all circumstances, including lurking threats....  We should do all we can to eliminate threats to astronauts’ lives. But to demand full safety--impossible!--means that space-exploration plans, one of the most extraordinary undertakings of mankind, will be paralyzed. This would question the sacrifice of many astronauts, including those from Columbia.”


ROMANIA:  "The Loss"


Political analyst Lucian Mandruta commented in financial Ziarul Financiar (2/3):  “For NASA, which also handles the International Space Station, it is vital to have a transportation vehicle such as the Shuttle.  Without it, the station will only be able to use Russian rockets, which will result in increased difficulties for operations and will raise costs.  The alternative is to shut down this project, which has already cost approximately USD $35 billion.  Regardless of the result of the investigation, NASA will have to come up with a new functioning model.  The agency will go through tough times trying to convince Congress and President Bush that the current direction of the Space Shuttle program, run with public money, deserves to be maintained.”




ISRAEL:  "The Price Of Progress"


Independent Ha'aretz editorialized (2/3):  "The loss of the Columbia space shuttle and its seven crew members is one of those moments that define humanity, distinguishing the nations that lead the research of the universe, and setting apart the very few individuals who risk their lives for this goal....  The death of the first Israeli astronaut, Colonel Ilan Ramon, must not terminate Israel's involvement in the space program....  Today's space travels, sometimes lasting many months and which include multinational space stations, have become commonplace, and the main controversy is over the enormous budgets required to keep these missions going, the selection of targets--and safety.  While these debates are primarily American, Israel also plays a role in them.  Israel can launch satellites and has top science and engineering experts.  Now, unfortunately, it also has its first bitter experience of a space disaster....  As instrumental as a satellite may be, an Israeli astronaut and flag on board an American spaceship play a symbolic role in the political arena."


"Eagle With Drooping Wings"


Editor-in-Chief Amnon Dankner declared in popular, pluralist Maariv (2/2):  "The American eagle's wings are drooping today, and one of the bones in its wings is Israeli.  Israel is in pain over the fall of Ilan Ramon and shares America's grief over the fall of his colleagues on the Columbia flight.  It was so symbolic that the joint deaths of Americans and one Israeli occurred as the Americans are bracing themselves for a war against Iraq in order to remove a threat aimed at Israel, too, a war in which Israel could suffer a blow from the Iraqis.  There is the feeling that as we stand today hand in hand and heart to heart with the United States, so Israelis will stand with the Americans and they with us over the coming weeks and months....  Today, more than any other country, the U.S. symbolizes a tremendous urge to break through borders and enhance knowledge, together with the resolve of freedom and self-fulfillment as basic human rights.  Thus, Israel will not be among those who shake their heads at the U.S. today, and certainly not among those who maliciously exhibit joy openly or covertly....  This is as opposed to another part of the world that views progress and freedom with suspicion and hostility, and harbors ill for both Israel and the U.S.--a part of the world that we will have to cope with together in the coming years."


LEBANON:  "America From Above"


Nabil Bou-Monsef wrote in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (2/3):  "When disasters strike...people return to their faith and try to come closer to God.  The whole world watched President Bush announcing the tragedy of the crash of Columbia with the eye of awe it feels towards a country that sent the first man to the moon, and the first space shuttle to Mars, and is considered like a legend on sciences and medicine....  As for this region, it watched President Bush with another eye: the eyes of people who would like to see the strongest President in the world sad and miserable.  They saw him the way they dream because they are tasting American oppression every day....  Ever since September 11, the world started to fear Bush's radicalism....  Arabs are afraid that Bush's adamant decision to launch a war against Iraq will result in an explosion of radicalism everywhere in the Arab world....  The Arab world was happy to see Bush as a believer who resorts to his God when disaster strikes, and would like to see him deal with the region in a fair and just manner without allowing poor nations to pay the price of America's unjustness and radicalism."


"The World Shares His Sadness!"


Fouad Daaboul commented in centrist Al-Anwar (2/3):  "The United States has been struck by disaster.  Calamity lands in the world's most powerful and scientifically advance country....  How terrible is the tragedy....  At the beginning, the former Soviet Union had superiority over the United States in the space race....  The star war between the two giants continued, with its ups and downs for each of them, but the Soviet Union then disappeared....  Before the shuttle broke up, people had only one subject to discuss, or one question to ask: When will the United States launch a military strike against Iraq?  But the incident made Columbia a headline of a painful and heartbreaking tragedy....  Columbia's disaster is as terrible as the destruction of the giant towers of the World Trade Center in New York in the most horrible and serious terrorist act ever.  Since 11 September 2001 the world has been obsessed with something called "international terrorism".  Will the disaster of the space shuttle psychologically shock the US president?  Will the disaster drive President Bush to reconsider his plan to attack Iraq? Will it make him think in a humanitarian way? President Bush is determined to attack Iraq. He is determined to divide Europe because France and Germany differ with him. He wants to divide the "allied continent" into old and new parts.  The world is tired of his determination, but he is not.  The American president is silently watching the Israeli aggression on the Palestinian people, and he is not stopping his injustice and support for oppressors.  Will the new American tragedy bring him back to reality?  The whole world shares President Bush's sadness about his astronauts. Will he, for once, be sad about his hostility toward Iraq, and the Arabs?"




CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):  "Space Quest Will Go On"


The independent English-language Standard said (2/4):  "Shuttle missions had become so routine no one took any notice.  Columbia's was the 113th.  While such remarkable events have become commonplace over the last quarter century, the dangers of space travel have not changed since the days of Yuri Gagarin and John Glenn....  But is the U.S. space program worth it?  If space exploration is to enjoy popular support, critics say, it requires astronauts attempting daring missions like ventures to Mars and beyond.  The shuttle program and the international space station do not grab the public's attention in the same way as the Apollo moon missions did.  But that is missing the point."


"Space Shuttle Tragedy Has Little Impact On Present Situation"


The independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal remarked (2/4):  "While the whole world is waiting for U.S. Secretary of State Powell to submit to the Security Council the new 'evidence' on Iraq on February 5, the Space Shuttle Columbia expectedly exploded on Sunday.  The Bush Administration immediately shifted its attention from attacking Iraq to a series of activities such as mourning services, investigations of the cause of the explosion and dealing with the aftermath.  It cannot but admit that the spirit of the U.S. has had its edge taken off.  However, it is a big mistake if one thinks that the U.S. determination to attack Iraq and the U.S. economy will suffer due to the accident....  The impact of this catastrophe on the U.S. economy is small.  If there is any impact, it is psychological, rather than substantial....  The space shuttle catastrophe will give the American people a negative image of the government's credibility, especially when confidence in Bush's ability to tackle economic issues is dropping."


"Braving Space Despite Setbacks"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao commented (2/4):  "The Columbia accident will teach other countries which are implementing space plans a lesson, directly or indirectly.  China's space industry is especially concerned, for it is going to launch its Shenzhou V spaceship this year.  Thus, it must pay attention to every detail so as to ensure the first manned spaceship by China will launch and return safely.  The Columbia tragedy has saddened Americans, Israelis as well as people around the world.  Just as various big or small accidents and failures happened in past space exploration, the tragedy will not shake up or halt progress.  It is believed that after thoroughly investigating the cause of the accident, people will be able to learn a lesson and conclude from past experience, and countries will continue to speed up the development of their space industries.  People will bravely confront the challenge in exploring space."


"America's Loss Offers A Timely Lesson For All"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post editorialized (2/3):  "Because it was so far from being a failure of high technology, the Challenger disaster seemed to suggest that the problems of space exploration lay not just with the scientific, but with the more prosaic issues of bureaucracy and management.  Given the nature of their task, the demands on all three disciplines are so much more extreme than in most endeavors.  In that regard, the U.S. government must again ensure NASA investigates fully what caused Columbia to explode and whether anything--technical or at the policy level--could have prevented it....  That is not to say, however, that the weekend's tragedy should prevent any nation launching further ventures into space.  Those involved in the industry at all levels surely know the massive dangers involved, and they must progress accordingly.  At the same time, those risks highlight the need to ensure space exploration is not merely geared to stirring national sentiment but designed to promote ongoing scientific and economic advance; that successful space travel serves some purpose beyond the more glamorous headlines."


"Glory Is To Fade"


Independent Chinese-language Ming Pao Daily News noted (2/3):  "In the wake of September 11, the U.S. Administration made safeguarding America's territorial safety and wiping out terrorism its top priorities.  The U.S. is not reluctant to run a huge budget deficit, nor is it slow to flex its military muscles.  It fought a war in Afghanistan.  It is now planning to attack Iraq.  It has also stepped up its intelligence efforts to monitor flows of people and goods....  The Columbia catastrophe has everything to do with the fact that NASA lacks funding.  That is not an unfounded conjecture....  In the face of the tragedy, the U.S. Administration has two options.  One is to allocate more resources to building shuttles of higher performance, as it did in the wake of the Challenger explosion in 1986, in the hope that successes will dim memories of the disaster.  The other is to slow down its space program, cut flights and attach overriding importance to safety.  If the U.S. does not cut its military spending, it is very likely to take the latter option."


"Imperishable Noble Spirit Of Space Heroes"


The independent Chinese-language Sing Pao Daily News wrote (2/3):  "People not only need to study the cause of the Columbia shuttle's accident, but they also have to learn a lesson from the setback.  They have to do a careful safety check which does not allow any danger of going wrong.  However, it is believed that human beings will not lose their faith in science, nor will they stop exploring space.  President Bush made a speech yesterday, saying 'The cause in which they died will continue.  Our journey into space will go on.'  It is believed that the Columbia accident will not lead Americans to give up their space plans, nor will it check the Chinese advance into space.  In the near future, people around the world will see the manned Shenzhou spaceship venturing into space."


JAPAN:  "U.S. Should Regain Trust In Space Exploration"


Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri opined (2/3):  "The mid-air disintegration of the U.S. space shuttle Columbia just before its landing on Saturday, the first fatal space shuttle incident since the 1986 Challenger explosion, indicates there are always risks involved in space exploration. NASA should investigate thoroughly into the accident and use lessons learned from the investigation to improve safety measures, which will go a long way to regaining trust in the shuttle system that was lost in Saturday's tragedy.  President Bush said: 'Our journey into space will go on.' This is the correct attitude. Space remains the final frontier for mankind to explore. In the past, the U.S. overcame the Challenger's explosion. The U.S.'s regaining of confidence in space exploration will have a profound effect on the space programs of the world as a whole."


"To Overcome Columbia Tragedy"


An editorial in the liberal Asahi observed (2/3):  "The entire U.S. is engulfed by despair and sorrow following the shuttle Columbia tragedy. NASA has launched an investigation into the accident, while President Bush issued a message saying 'our journey into space will go on.' Moves are already afoot to overcome the tragedy. Space exploration by manned flights can only be done by a nation that has courage and power to overcome risks and accidents.  The U.S. got the space shuttle program back on its feet after overcoming the Challenger tragedy. Space development has shifted from an era of competition to a period of cooperation since the end of the Cold War. U.S. shuttles have been playing a pivotal role in the construction of an international space station. The U.S. and other members of the international community should join hands to overcome this tragedy and go ahead with space exploration. Columbia, which was designed in the 1960s, developed in '70s and test-flown in 1981, was, as it were, a 'classic car.' The development of a new space shuttle was postponed for budgetary reasons." 


"A Bad Day For Us All"


The leftist English-language Japan Times editorialized (2/3):  "Watching the fiery remains of space shuttle Columbia streak across the blue Texas sky Saturday was like being forced to relive the past....  Just last Tuesday, Columbia's crew members joined NASA mission control in a moment of silence at the exact hour of the Challenger tragedy.....  We extend our deepest condolences to the families of those seven courageous astronauts....  Finally, those feelings of commiseration flow to all Americans, a nation still so shaken in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, the anthrax attacks and last fall's sniper crisis that the first thing U.S. government spokesmen felt compelled to do Saturday was to send out signals that terrorism was not suspected in the Columbia accident....  Unfortunately, there are people in the world who do not regard it as an accident and certainly do not extend their sympathy, either to the bereaved or to the United States as a whole....  What happened in the sky over Texas has nothing to do with Mr. Bush or his looming confrontation with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The U.S. space program, which is the chief engine of the still nascent international space program, began long before the present administration arrived on the scene and will continue long after it has gone....  In the past decade the International Space Station, for all its troubles, has come to symbolize the kind of global comity that has proved so hard to sustain or even find on Earth....  But one thing is certain. Someday, the remaining orbiters will fly again and construction of the ISS will proceed."


INDONESIA:  “Another Space Tragedy”


The independent English-language Jakarta Post observed (2/4):  “President George W. Bush Jr. and First Lady Laura Bush are expected to attend a memorial service that will be held by the American National Air and Space Administration (NASA) in Houston, Texas, today, and share in the grief that is felt by millions of Americans and others elsewhere in the world. We, too, would like on this occasion to extend our sincere condolences to all the bereaved....  Let us remember that those seven astronauts aboard the Columbia shuttle did not give their lives in vain. By serving science in the true spirit of international cooperation they also served not only the United States, but all mankind. We would also like to join in the hope, expressed by President Bush, that Saturday's tragedy will not stop the American space program from continuing.”


MALAYSIA:  "The Magnificent Seven"


Government-influenced English-language New Straits Times editorialized (2/4):  "The loss of the space shuttle Columbia is a tragedy not only to the United States but to all of humanity.  In one fell swoop, the world has lost seven brilliant and courageous individuals in their prime.  Furthermore, few can match their fearless spirit as they knew only too well the ever-present dangers, great and small, that stalk their calling.  In this instance, the initial signs are that it was indeed something seemingly inconsequential that caused the disaster.  This will, of course, mean another setback to the American space program, which has had its share of detractors.  Already, the remaining shuttles have been mothballed until further notice; this despite the fact that three astronauts are still working in the international space station and the shuttles are, as understood by all, their lifeline.  Not that they have been left stranded.  They are said to have enough supplies to last until June and the Soyuz capsule can bring them back should the necessity arise.  But obviously, NASA, America's space agency, is shaken by this tragedy.  It cannot, however, be allowed the luxury of recriminations because the race for the final frontier has brought immense benefits to the ordinary, everyday existence of humanity.  Space exploration has provided the impetus to the technology revolution that made for the triumphant closure of the last millennium.  The marvels of communications that we enjoy today is an obvious example of how space travel has improved our lives here on earth.  Yes, there is a need to investigate exhaustively the causes but no, there is no need to slow down the work of advancing man's knowledge of space.  Now that the Russian program is severely restricted, NASA must keep up the pace.  The success of the international space program as epitomized in the space station will be one of the best memorials the seven can ever have.  While their passing is mourned, their memory can only be effectively preserved by continuing the space odyssey.  Let not their deaths be in vain."


THAILAND:  “Columbia 7 Died For The Boldest Of Causes”


The lead editorial in the independent, English-language Nation read (2/4):  “It is this all-too-human desire to test the limits, to explore, to look up at the night skies and wonder what’s out there that makes the loss of the Columbia a loss for the world, and not just America.  As U.S. President George W. Bush, with rare eloquence, said in response to the tragedy: ‘Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand.’  Space demands such bold words and bold action.  Everybody who has watched a space launch, followed a mission and seen the footage of our delicate blue planet from outer space understands this feeling of shared community.  It thus didn’t seem implausible that the shuttle should be carrying an Israeli air force colonel and child of Auschwitz survivors, Ilan Ramon, when it broke up over an east Texas town called Palestine....  The accident will no doubt reopen questions about whether the benefits of such science outweigh the continuing risks and costs of human space flights as opposed to unmanned space exploration.  Such questions are even more urgent today than 17 years ago when the Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff, as the International Space Station, inhibited since 2000, depends on shuttle flights to rotate crews and deliver cargo....  Once again we are tragically reminded of the perils of space exploration.”




INDIA:  "India Has To Do A Lot More To Trumpet Its Achievers Abroad" 


The centrist Calcutta-based Telegraph wrote (2/5): "It was hard enough that George W. Bush could not correctly pronounce Kalpana Chawla's name when he addressed the nation after...Columbia crashed....  The presidential mispronunciation, no doubt unintended, did nothing to stem the tide of grief across America which poured out as news spread that Chawla and her six fellow crew members in the shuttle did not survive its crash.  It caused no real harm.  But not so with a story which the Associated Press put out within hours of the disintegration of the spacecraft.  That story devoted two paragraphs each to the commander...and the Israeli pilot...and one paragraph to each of the five other astronauts....  That was the kind of story which had the potential to sow seeds of doubt in the mind of readers that maybe, just maybe, this third world astronaut had done something wrong...and because of that, Columbia is gone!....  Reading the AP story, the conviction grew that when it comes to Indian achievers abroad, India has to do a lot more to trumpet them.  Not just diplomatically, but in every possible way.  In her death, Chawla did more to raise India in the American and world consciousness than anything....  The inability to be upfront and have a public persona even when circumstances warrant and favor such action points to a serious shortcoming within the Indian government: the inability to coordinate its actions or disseminate information worldwide.  Such a handicap is not confined to crisis or emergency situations as during the last weekend."


"Leap In The Dark" 


The Calcutta-based centrist Telegraph editorialized (2/4):  "To build a life of excellence and achievement which is also a life of stupendous risks requires qualities which will remain somewhat inexplicable to ordinary men and women.  This is why the lives, and death, of those who died on February 1 will inspire a sense not only of tragedy, but also of something considerably greater than ordinary human ambition....  But the immense risk involved in an astronaut's profession is not simply a question of personal heroism.  It makes the entire issue of space research fraught with questions....  For the foreseeable future, all spacecraft can only be experimental vehicles, and safety must remain an open-ended issue....  This ought to be NASA's highest concern, apart from conducting the fullest investigation into why Columbia exploded on its way down to earth. But this is not to veto space research altogether.  Robotic craft, controlled from the ground or by artificial intelligence, can never entirely replace the effectiveness of actual human presence in space....  The safety of the men and women who knowingly take...enormous risks must remain NASA's greatest responsibility."


"A Ground Disaster?"


The nationalist Hindustan Times opined (2/4):  "As investigators struggle to determine what caused the space shuttle Columbia to break up during re-entry, NASA--and other space agencies around the world--will be bracing for weeks and months of intense introspection about the tragedy. It's not the thought of bringing back the three astronauts on board the space station being assembled in orbit that's probably worrying NASA officials...a more pressing concern will be that of grounding the other three space shuttles--Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavor--for an extended period of time, as they are vital for the maintenance of the space station's operations.  Any undue delay could add years to the station's assembly timetable and several billions of dollars to its's quite possible that NASA may be ruing its decision in the Nineties to eliminate many safety checks during shuttle launches due to a series of budget cuts. The largely government-run shuttle program has increasingly been taken over by private contractors whose commitment to the space effort is, by NASA officials' own admission, not exactly exemplary at all times. Saturday's disaster, therefore, may have been a tragedy waiting to happen."


"Questions Are Being Raised In The U.S. Itself On NASA Activities"


A front-page dispatch from Washington by correspondent Seema Sirohi in independent Calcutta-based Bengali-language Ananda Bazar Patrika noted (2/4):  "Certain quarters feel that the space programs are being affected owing to the U.S. Administration's continual inattention towards NASA.  The U.S. has been focusing more on defense related space activities than on space research for peaceful purposes.  About Dols. 1 billion was slashed from NASA's budget allocation during the past year.  On the other hand, defense space programs got a bounty of Dols. 600 million hike in its own budget allocation.  NASA finds it extremely difficult to hold its standard of excellence as before, with 40 percent cut in funding over the past decade.  Proper maintenance of the ill-fated 22-year-old spacecraft Columbia could not be done for want of adequate funding.  Experts opined after the Challenger disaster in favor of fixing ejection capsules to any spacecraft in future expeditions so astronauts can come out in an eventuality.  But NASA is lacking funds to introduce such arrangements."


"At The Cost Of Life"


An editorial in independent Calcutta-based Bengali-language Ananda Bazar Patrika remarked (2/4):  "Possibilities of new expeditions will certainly be rejuvenated from NASA's self-hatred, exasperation and quest.  On the other hand, Russia did not hesitate to launch another spacecraft even after this tragedy in order to provide logistical support to the three astronauts in the international space station.  This unmistakably points to the truth that no failure can pull the human civilization backward from its indomitable advancement....  The voyagers in Columbia have reminded people worldwide yet once again at the expense of their lives that should an human being wants to march forward nothing can stop him.  A particular individual may be defeated for the time being but it is almost impossible to vanquish and refrain the human civilization collectively from its penchant for making progress....  Can President Bush and his brigade realize there are much more things remaining undone towards the marriage of human understanding with science? Do they not yet understand that it is high time, all of us should unite by pulling up collective resources in order to accomplish the unfinished task? Do they not recognize that there are much more important things to be done for the benefit of mankind instead of developing missiles....  While the current world is being torn by the terrible impact of wars, terrorism and obscurantism the Columbia disaster is as if a pointer of immense potentialities of civilization as well as a torchlight of larger human psyche."


"Heroic Seven" 


Chennai-based leftist English-language News Today opined (2/3):  "Seven lights of heroism became extinct strangely and cruelly by the ordeal of fire.  Though the reasons why Columbia disintegrated are yet to be revealed, one thing is certain: It is that there should have been a technological failure because of which those in that space shuttle did not have protection against the massive heat that flared up when the shuttle entered the atmosphere....  One thing is, however, very clear.  The sacrifice of young lives in the sky could not have been an act of terrorism because no surface-to-air-missile could reach the height of 207,000 feet at which the shuttle was traveling at the incredible speed of 12,500 miles per hour when tragedy struck it....  Risks are inevitable in space flights.  The latest accident, it is hoped, would alert space scientists to their having to learn and learn some risks altogether by hindsight."


"The Longest Journey"


The centrist Times of India editorialized (2/3):  "While people in America, India and Israel had a particular interest in the mission, the eyes of the whole world were on Columbia as it entered its final, doomed phase. However, the symbol of our collective consciousness was, ironically, returning to a planet besieged by the gathering storm of war....  As we grieve for Columbia and its crew we must acknowledge that all explorations are perilous."


"Reach For The Sky" 


The pro-economic-reform Economic Times declared (2/3):  "On February 1, US President George W Bush made his first and perhaps most logical statement for the month when he said the American space program would continue....  It might sound cliched to say so, but the seven astronauts who died almost instantly at the point of break-up some 200,000 feet above would have wanted the space program to continue....  Like her six companions on the Columbia, Kalpana Chawla understood better than those Earth-bound that almost all human progress has been achieved by venturing into the unknown."


"Riders To Space"


An editorial in the pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer maintained (2/3):  "Not all who perish in the pursuit of their dreams become legends. Some, whose dreams are shared by the whole of humankind or a large section of it, do...given the threat terrorism poses to the US, there will be exhaustive investigations to find out whether the initial assumption was correct....  History is a process of fading margins before the strivings of the adventurous. Not all of them live to celebrate their success."


"There Is Space After Columbia"  


The centrist Asian Age obsered (2/3):  "While there is no reason to believe that terrorism was a factor that led to space-shuttle Columbia to time should be wasted to find what caused the tragedy in the first place....  The late Kalpana Chawla and her fellow astronauts have for no apparent fault of theirs have had to quit the world in the prime of their lives....  But even extraordinary security has not been good enough to prevent the mishap from happening.  One reason why the security was so extraordinarily tight was the presence in the crew of a first-time Israeli astronaut, Illan Ramon....  Several questions will now be raised over the future of the United States' space programs in general. But let us hope one accident...will not put man's effort to know the unknown on hold."


"Citizen:  Solar System" 


The centrist Indian Express held (2/3):  "Clearly, USA's National Aeronautics and Space Administration knew what it was about when it selected her to be an astronaut in 1994 and went on to put her on board its space shuttle flight STS-87 three years later....  This indeed is a saga that will inspire every school child and every little girl who has a dream to fly."


"Gory Earthly Remains From Space"


Washington-based Diplomatic Editor K.P. Nayar noted in the Calcutta-based centrist Telegraph (2/3):  "Eventually, Chawla was selected for her next--fatal, as it turned out--flight and the training schedules and other demands meant she could no longer travel abroad. Just as India was close to her heart till the very end, the Americans always acknowledged the way India felt about Chawla.  Their gestures conveyed the appreciation that Chawla was an Indian American....  Chawla was sensitive to the fact that she had given up her Indian nationality.  Without that she would not have got to where she did in the U.S. space program with its requirements of security clearances and so on."


"Countdown To Tragedy" 


The nationalist Hindustan Times commented (2/3):  "For Indians, the grief was all the more intense because, as a woman astronaut, Kalpana represented a new generation of her countrymen, ready to break all stereotypes to march into previously unexplored territory....  For the Americans, who take great pride in their technology, and for NASA, the tragedy carried the chilling message of the fallibility of even the most expensive and sophisticated systems. Yet, even in these moments of sorrow, there is still the conviction in everyone's heart that shuttles will fly again, with Indian men and women among other astronauts."


"Columbia Crashes On Return"


In a front-page dispatch, Washington-based Diplomatic Editor K.P. Nayar wrote in the Calcutta-based centrist Telegraph (2/2):  "In a supreme irony the space shuttle carrying the first Israeli astronaut crashed in a place called Palestine in Texas.  Because the Israeli astronaut was on the flight, there was unprecedented security.  Also because of Ramon's presence, there was speculation immediately after the crash that the space shuttle may have been a terrorist target.  These were subsequently dismissed as mere rumors"


"Columbia Setback Owing to Goof-up by NASA Scientists?"


The pro-BJP Calcutta-based Bengali-language Bartaman cautioned (2/3):  "Intriguingly, there was no robot, fitted with any high-powered camera placed in the space shuttle like Columbia, which was being eulogized by NASA scientists. If there were any such robot it could have been possible for the scientists to monitor more closely how critical the damage was.  Alternatively, the astronauts, too might have taken pre-emptive steps by giving a heads up to the experts at the Mission Control....  With the most unfortunate and untimely demise of the astronauts, a far reaching endeavor of the advancement of the human civilization, too received a tremendous blow.  NASA, for the time being has decided to keep in abeyance its space missions. Still there is no way in stopping the human being from taking the plunge in exploring the universe today or tomorrow. Who knows, whether judging from that perspective the Columbia mishap has opened up yet another vista of new thinking?"


"Death In Space"


An editorial in left-of-center Calcutta-based Bengali-language Sambat Pratidin maintained (2/3):  "Certainly questions...would be raised on the justification of sending human being at all to the space voyage....  It does not seem that despite involvement of enormous costs and high risks people would be deterred from trying to unfold the mysteries of the universe. The human race has been trying their best to explore not only the Moon, but also Mars and Venus as well. These endeavors would not merely help us discover more about those planets and orbs but that would enrich us with comprehensive insight into this world as well as human life itself. It is not hard to predict that many more enthusiasts like Kalpana Chawla and her ilk would, in future, be embarking on similar space missions withstanding risks. We, only would pray so all of them have a safe return to the Earth."


PAKISTAN:  "The Columbia Tragedy"


Karachi-based independent national Dawn declared (2/4):  "The world is mourning the American space shuttle tragedy that took place last week....  Apart from the setback to America's space programs, the Columbia tragedy has human dimensions. The seven astronauts killed included a young woman from India. Her passion for space had taken her to this tryst with destiny. Their death is not America's loss alone but that of all mankind....  All one can hope is that tragedies of such nature will not deter man from getting closer to the stars and galaxies, which have always fascinated him since the dawn of civilization and the beginning of astronomy in Babylon." 


"U.S. Flag At Half-mast"


An editorial in the Islamabad-based rightist English-language Pakistan Observer maintained (2/3):  "Columbia’s tragedy is being mourned the world over. It has certainly caused a jolt to the United States in general and the process of scientific research in particular. There is no doubt that the U.S. space and upper atmospheric research program has made major contribution towards promotion of science, and the developing nations were tremendously benefiting from it....  Whatever the cause of Columbia’s destruction, the fact is that it is a great scientific and human tragedy, since the space shuttle was a vital element in the advancement of scientific knowledge about space and the upper atmosphere. It has also claimed the lives of seven astronauts, who were undoubtedly extraordinary persons due to their courage and feats in space....  The American flag flies at half-mast. It is, however, hoped that the suspension will be temporary and flights will be resumed after the cause of the tragedy is identified. The incident, in fact, justifies acceleration of scientific research, especially in space and the upper atmosphere, for the benefit of humanity."


"Space Tragedy"


The center-right national Nation held (2/3):  "The crash of the American space shuttle Columbia is an indubitable tragedy. The loss of lives is not exactly high by the standards of this violent world of ours, but the seven who died were special people. Crossing all bounds of nationality (Israelis and Indians have never been popular in Pakistan, while Americans these days are somewhat under a cloud), none can but feel a thrill of admiration when contemplating these adventurers who dare to challenge the bounds of gravity, who go to explore the ultimate frontier, space itself....  Yet the drive to conquer space will go on. Exploration has always been a dangerous activity and has provided some of the most enthralling examples of courage and some of the most awesome examples of the heights to which the human spirit can reach out....  The activity is extremely expensive, and it is not clear that the benefits of developing technologies and spinning off applications is worth the cost. Tragedies like the Columbia crash raise fresh questions as to the wisdom of this activity. But if nothing else, space exploration satisfies a visceral need for a challenge among such gifted people as its crew and allows the rest of us ordinary mortals the chance to dream the kind of impossible dreams that have taken the human race from the caves to the moon."


"Columbia Tragedy"


The centrist national News opined (2/3):  "The disaster that struck space shuttle Columbia in which seven young astronauts perished is a tragedy that will be widely mourned throughout the world....  One of the beneficial by-products of space program are the vast array of satellites which have dramatically improved communication and contributed towards increasing human knowledge in a vast number of fields. But, regrettably, the technology is also being used for military purposes to improve the edge of armies in war....  For most developing countries the space program shorn of its prodigious achievements will offer little and will be seen as a massive wastage of precious funds."


“Shuttle Columbia’s Destruction”


Popular Urdu-language Din editorialized (2/3):  "It is unfortunate that upon receiving reports of the Shuttle’s destruction, the U.S. media started a wave of speculation. It is the U.S. media’s utmost desire that, one way or the other, Al-Qaeda be blamed for this tragedy as well....  However, every sane citizen of the world agrees that this was not the result of a terrorist act. There could be several reasons for Columbia’s destruction. Some scientists are expressing the possibility that the shuttle entered the atmosphere at a wrong angle, which caused the tragedy....  To prove the accident a terrorist act, CNN is citing the presence of an Israeli pilot on board who had been part of a team that destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor....  The astronauts were scheduled to make 80 different scientific experiments. It is not known yet whether they had been successful in conducting those tests or not. It is a pity that the astronauts’ research has also been wasted. The U.S. government spends billions of dollars every year on NASA. There are several organizations in the U.S. that look upon this expenditure with distaste and term NASA a white elephant. In their view, it is unfair to spend billions on space missions when millions of Americans are living in dire straits. Seen in this perspective, it is difficult to dismiss the notion that anti-NASA groups might have slipped in their members as scientists, and they might have caused defects in the shuttle that caused the accident during landing. However, the next step (for the U.S.) is to find the debris and to keep curious and thrill-seeking citizens away from the site. The Pakistani nation shares the American nation’s grief at the tragic devastation of Columbia."


"Destruction Of Space Shuttle Columbia: An International Loss"


Leading mass-circulation Urdu-language Jang observed (2/3):  "The destruction of space shuttle Columbia is in fact a big loss for space research and human endeavors to explore the upper atmosphere. It would not be wrong to declare it as a loss of not only America, but also the entire world in the field of scientific space research.  It is also good that the U.S. government has ruled out the possibility of any terrorism in this incident, since the American government and the nation are so engrossed in the fear of terrorism that they link every incident to terrorism.  The Bush administration must also learn a lesson from this accident.  President Bush must not spend billion of dollars on a self-imposed war that would bring nothing but destruction for the humanity and would destroy the international economy."


"Destruction Of Space Shuttle: A Warning For U.S."


Karachi-based pro Taliban Urdu-language Islam declared (2/3):  "The suspicious destruction of space shuttle Columbia is a warning sign for the United States in the light of its present thinking. The United States has waged an international war against humanity in order to prove itself unconquerable. The destruction of the space shuttle is once again a Divine warning to the U.S."


"Accident Of American Shuttle"


Karachi-based right-wing pro-Islamic unity Urdu-language Jasarat noted (2/3):  "There is nothing worth mentioning in the recent accident of space shuttle Columbia other than that space travel is still full of dangers and human technology is not perfect enough to make it 100 percent safe. It is also a relieving factor that the Muslims have not been blamed for this accident, otherwise it could have provided a big justification to the Bush administration in its war against terrorism.  History reveals that these big and small accidents are not only a test for humans, but also a warning for them."   




SOUTH AFRICA:  "Columbia Tragedy"


Liberal, independent Natal Witness commented (2/4):  "Worse disasters...happen virtually every day on the country roads.  But the death of seven astronauts...has far wider significance.  If anything reveals the frailty of the human species if is the spectacle of our finest technology going tragically awry.  So spectacular have been the triumphs of the U.S. space programme that the public has complacently regard success as assured....  Critics of NASA have, of course, not been slow in coming forward with allegations that this was a tragedy waiting to happen and a catalogue of all the warnings they given....  Are the risks justified?  It is a question that will be asked many times as the U.S. and the world come to grips with the consequences of the loss of Columbia.  It would surely be a poor reward to the efforts of the Columbia crew and all the other astronauts, however, if space flight...were abandoned.  Space travel is a cultural achievement, a measure of human aspiration.  If future missions are permanently aborted, we will surely lose a sense of vision and purpose, a literal reaching for the stars, without which humanity would be immeasurably poorer."


"Columbia And Humankind"


Liberal independent The Star noted (2/4):  "It is right that the world should mourn the loss of the space shuttle.. and its crew....  Columbia symbolizes the incredible achievements of 20th century man.  The space race may have started for the wrong reasons, but it has extended the frontiers of our world....  Perhaps the message is that while we are not yet able to achieve reconciliation on Earth, it is only as a unified force that humanity will successfully continue to reach out to the stars and its own future."


"Always Heed The engineers"


Editor Andrew Kenny cautioned in the conservative Citizen (2/4):  "This is the fundamental lesson:  when engineers say one thing and managers say another, always heed the engineers....  [President Bush] says the space missions will continue.  Good.  They are great adventure for humanity.  If I were offered a flight on the space shuttle tomorrow, I should instantly accept, but I should feel a bit happier if NASA took [physicist Richard] Feynman's advice and increased its safety margins."


"Space Is Still A Frontier"


The conservative Citizen commented (2/3):  "It's a chilling testimony to the tensions of our times that initial reactions to the shuttle Columbia's disintegration were filled with speculation about terrorist involvement....  Great play was made of the presence of Israel's first astronaut among the crew, including his role in the bombing of an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981.  Given the crisis in the Middle East, especially over Iraq, such information feeds prejudice, which sees terror in too many places.  We hope there is no connection, and the explanation is more simple....  Some of the statistics remind us of how dangerous space travel is....  Space is still a frontier.  Those brave, highly intelligent men and women who dedicate their lives to the exploration are fully aware of the possible dangers.  In that sense they are truly heroic."


"Columbia Disaster"


The liberal Mercury opined (2/2):  "The world mourns the loss of the crew of the space shuttle Columbia as they re-entered the earth's atmosphere only a tantalizing 16 minutes from a scheduled landing at Cape Canaveral, Florida.  Space exploration is by definition a high-risk activity and calamities such as this are statistically to be expected.  But so frequent had launches and returns become over the years, and so seemingly free of glitches, that they had become almost commonplace.  In terms of lives lost, worse calamities happen virtually everyday on roads, railways, at sea and in conventional air travel.  But it is the intense focus of technology and human intelligence on securing a safe return for the shuttle and its occupants--and its failure in this case--which provides the sense of shock....  The National Aeronautics and Space Administration will do its best to analyze the mishap from the meager evidence at its disposal....  But the launches will certainly continue."




ARGENTINA:  "Columbia: Now People Speak Of Negligence"


Business-financial Infobae said (2/4):  "The Columbia tragedy triggered a debate on the reasons for a reduction in NASA's budget, with negative effects on security, and also on the future of the space program. The accident posed a question mark....  During the past decade, NASA's budget was trimmed down or remained constant, and in the year 2003 was reduced 1.9%. These budget cuts had their cost. In 2001, the Office of General Accounts, the investigation agency in Congress, concluded that budget cuts 'reduce NASA's capability of maintaining security in the space shuttle programs'....  Nevertheless, White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer declared yesterday that the USG had no evidence to conclude that the financial problems of the last decade had anything to do with the Columbia tragedy."


"Another Blow On A Nation's Already Emotional Mood"


Alberto Armendariz, daily-of-record La Nacion political columnist, wrote (2/2):  "Still highly emotional after the 9/11 attacks that rocked the country in 2001 and amidst preparations for war against Iraq, Saturday's explosion of the Columbia shuttle brought back the specter of terrorism to the U.S. people, while many ask themselves what other tragedies await them in the future.  Shortly after losing contact with the shuttle and without a quick official explanation on what happened, TV and radio stations pointed out that among the seven astronauts there was an Israeli crew member, and carried declarations from experts on terrorism evaluating the possibility that the shuttle may have been the target of an attack. Practically all analysts ruled out this possibility, mainly due to the altitude in which the tragedy took place, around 60 kilometers from Earth....  Nevertheless, people standing outside shop-windows repeated over and over again the words 'sabotage' and 'terrorist', while they watched the first images of the explosion on TV....  Unlike 1986, yesterday there were no comments by politicians or TV news commentators reflecting on whether space exploration should continue or not after the serious accident of the Challenger; all the contrary, they showed determination and resolution in continuing with the program, even though NASA announced it will temporarily interrupt the launching of future shuttles until it can identify the cause of the accident....  And, while all over the country the national flag remained half staff, there were some who, while linking the tragedy of the space aircraft with an eventual war on Iraq, warned that the country must show its strength and determination because 'there are tougher days ahead'."


"Countdown For An Investigation"


Pedro Lipcovich commented in leftist Pagina 12 (2/3):  "We can already assess the kind of nightmare that is probably haunting the chief of NASA programs every night: the repetition of the instant prior to the launching, on January 16, when a piece of isolation of the fuel tank came off and damaged one of the wings of the shuttle, but he ordered countdown to continue. This is, so far, the most probable reason for the accident that took place 15 days later, when the Columbia took contact with the atmosphere on its way back. But the underlying reason must be found in the organization and history of the U.S. space program. The critical comments that the head of an advisory panel on space security made last year in U.S. Congress were disclosed yesterday. These comments warned of the risks implied in the budget reductions suffered by NASA once the Cold War was over and the space race vis-à-vis the USSR was no longer a priority. Space shuttles were built with technology of the 70's and the oldest of them--the Columbia, precisely--was almost 22 years old....  Yesterday, NASA was stormed with accusations after the accident; criticism focused on the idea that security issues were gradually underestimated due to budget restrictions."


BRAZIL:  "The Earth Is Blue"


Octavio Costa opined in center-left Jornal do Brasil (2/5):  "Some find odd that the seven astronauts be treated as heroes.  Oddness here is what's odd....  Astronauts become heroes when they die in action.  Space will always involve great risks, no matter how many have become used to it....  Many other astronauts will die in the name of science and technological development....  The price is high. But Mankind has to open new frontiers.  It was so with navigation on the high seas, and so it will be in conquering space....  Not even the international rejection of Bush's war against Iraq should justify the indifference to the Columbia explosion."


"Space Disaster"


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo declared (2/4): "The disaster with the Columbia space shuttle has caught the U.S. at a particularly delicate moment, when that nation is waging the so-called anti-terror war and is preparing to invade Iraq. The accident is not enough to change Washington's bellicose plans, but affects U.S. morale in a way vital to the war: that of technological supremacy. The blow is mainly symbolic and affects only the American self-esteem. U.S. superiority in the space area remains unquestioned, both in the civilian and military sectors....  In addition to NASA's powerful marketing, what has justified manned space missions is the romantic idea that man will pioneer outer space. There is nothing wrong with this idea provided that one is ready to pay the price for the adventure. Both in dollars and human lives."


"American Crisis"


Right-of-center O Globo editorialized (2/4):  "It's a rare, unexpected sight: Can one image the richest, maybe most envied country in the world undergoing an identity crisis?  Some facts may explain it, although they do not justify this pessimistic attitude.  First, obviously, is the September 11 attack when the taboo of invulnerability was destroyed.  Then after the catastrophe came the awareness of an undeniable hostility, almost aversion against the U.S.--a feeling stronger and deeper than liberals or conservative Americans had believed.  Recent months have brought out differences that jeopardize the historical alliance between Americans and Europeans: France and Germany are openly against military action against Iraq.  And now, 17 years after the Challenger's explosion the Columbia space shuttle tragedy raises new doubts about NASA's competence.  It's important to see this U.S. crisis of morale as a world issue, rather than a domestic matter.  Very few things regarding the U.S. are in Americans' exclusive interest.  There's the risk of the country going to war against Iraq in an instinctive impulse to recover self-esteem. Or worse, under the disguise of an altruistic mission.  The New York Times columnist William Safire suggests a relationship between the sacrifice of the Columbia astronauts and that of the American soldiers in the world.  Americans, he says, are used to risking their lives in the service of Mankind. In the case of the space shuttle that is certainly true; with intervention in Iraq, it would be better to wait for UN's verdict."


"The Columbia's Tragedy And Space Exploration"


Business-oriented Valor Economico commented (2/4):  "It is clear that space missions are risky. But the benefits they generate for all mankind have not been small. They justify the continuation of space programs....  It will not be only in the U.S. and Russia that this discussion will be resumed as a result of the Columbia disaster. Other nations have also invested in space programs, including Brazil....  It is true that Brazil has an immense number of problems to resolve, but the fact is that many of them can be resolved more rapidly with the help of observations made from space....  The disaster should not serve as a pretext for any nation, including Brazil, to slow the pace of its space programs....  The death of the seven astronauts is lamentable, but it should not impede the pursuit of the mission for which they gave their lives."


"Sublime Tragedies And Horrors"


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo's managing editor Vinicius Torres Freire observed (2/3):  "What is a tragedy?....  The ruinous punishment of unconscious human arrogance is a tragedy....  Why is it that an obscure shipwreck that kills dozens of Indonesians becomes just a note in the media and does not seem as shocking as the horrible death of seven astronauts?  Why is it that 3,000 people cruelly murdered in New York, as were 800,000 Tutsis in Burundi, deserve more demonstrations of global mourning?....  Because it is a show aimed at attracting the attention of the media's basic clients to the Empire's woes, mood and power....  It is a political show."


CANADA:  "NASA Must Find A Bold New Mission"


Columnist Paul Stanway commented in the conservative tabloid Edmonton Sun (2/5):  "The problem for NASA is that it hasn't really advanced the frontiers of manned space flight since December 1972, when Apollo 17 made mankind's last journey to the moon. At $2 billion US apiece, the shuttle program is a bureaucratic and scientific compromise designed to maintain a foothold in space and ensure NASA's continued existence.  The shuttles put a pretty face on manned space flight while accomplishing a little science and providing a very expensive launch vehicle for satellites.  So NASA had to develop another scenario to bolster the program.  The shuttles would become a space truck to allow construction of an $8-billion US international orbiting space station, which would house a dozen scientists doing ground-breaking work and which would become mankind's launch pad into space....  For the U.S., NASA has become a massive, multibillion-dollar bureaucracy that creates employment for tens of thousands and produces significant technology spinoffs--but it has not significantly advanced the cause of manned space flight and exploration in 30 years. Is that worth the loss of seven astronauts every 50 or so shuttle flights?....  But on Dec. 17, the Americans and the world will mark the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' inauguration of the age of powered flight. It seems to me like an appropriate time to expand mankind's goals in space, and to share the responsibilities and costs more equitably. That might justify the sacrifice of the astronauts of Columbia."


"After Columbia, A Bolder Vision"


The leading Globe and Mail opined (2/5):  "Perhaps the Columbia disaster should be viewed as an opportunity to re-evaluate the U.S. space program entirely....  In the past few days, questions have been raised about the value of some of the experiments done on shuttle missions. Some people have wondered why human expeditions occur at all, when much of the work could be done by robots. The skepticism is overdone but not surprising; the evaluation of our time in space seems to have been turned over to accountants instead of visionaries....  U.S. president John Kennedy electrified the public in 1961 by vowing that an American would walk on the moon by the end of the decade. The goal was met. It is time for another audacious leap."


PANAMA:  "Disaster"


Carlos Christian Sanchez opined in tabloid Critica Libre (2/6):  "Now that they are ready for a war against Iraq, to take possession of the petroleum in that Arab nation, the shuttle accident made the U.S. public's indifference towards space exploration and its consequences change."



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