February 6, 2003
SHUTTLE TRAGEDY: A 'LOSS FOR THE WORLD, NOT JUST
"catastrophe" was a "tragedy not only for the U.S. but for all
** 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
** 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
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
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.
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
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.”
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
“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
“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
ITALY: “The Announced
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”
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
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
"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
“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?”
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,
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
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
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.”
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
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
LEBANON: "America From
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
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
"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
"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
INDONESIA: “Another Space
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.”
"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
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
"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 cost...it'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
"Questions Are Being Raised In The U.S. Itself On NASA
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."
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
"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
"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 burn...no
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."
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
"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
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."
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."
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
"Destruction Of Space Shuttle Columbia: An International
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
"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
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
"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
"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."
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
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
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
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."
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
"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."
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."