Remarks by Telephone With Crewmembers on Board the Space Shuttle Challenger

October 12, 1984

The President. Hello, Cripp? These phone calls between us seem to occur more and more frequently. We're going to start calling you the Nation's senior shuttle system -- citizen, I should say -- [laughing]. Now that you've spent nearly 400 hours on board the space shuttle, I think that could be your title.


Astronaut Crippen. Thank you very much, Mr. President. We appreciate your calling.

The President. Well, as you may know, today's call to you and the crew is a bit different. I happen to be on board a train right now in Dayton, Ohio. [Applause] And I hope you could hear that cheer from the crowd that's outside the train here.

And Dayton is where Wilbur and Orville Wright developed and built their early gliders and airplanes. I'm told that the Wrights spent about 7 years and a thousand dollars in development costs to build their early aircraft, the one that flew in 1903. Well, since the Challenger flies a little bit farther and maybe a little faster than the original Wright fliers, I suppose we can justify the slightly higher development costs that we have.

But your mission adds the most recent chapter to a story begun by the Wright brothers, and you are certainly providing your share of firsts.

Kathy, when we met at the White House, I know you were excited about walking in space. Was it what you expected?


Astronaut Sullivan. Yes, Mr. President. It was far more than I could have expected. I think it was the most fantastic experience of my life.

The President. Well, that's wonderful. And Sally, Sally Ride, it didn't take you long to get back into space. How is it the second time around?


Astronaut Ride. It's just as much fun the second time around.

The President. [Laughing]

Astronaut Ride. I think it will be more fun the third time.

The President. Okay, you're getting to be a veteran. I'd like to say hello to Canada's fine astronaut. Marc, a lot's happened since we talked last at the White House, and with all there is to do in this mission, I know that Cripp appreciates having three strong Canadian arms on board.

Marc, how have your projects been going?


Astronaut Garneau. Well, thank you, Mr. President. It's a great honor for me to be aboard this flight, and I'm having an incredible time, and it's just great to be here.

The President. Well, listen, to all of you, let me say congratulations and tell you how proud we are of what you're doing. I guess as you circle the Earth several more times, I'll be traveling by train across Ohio. So, you have a safe landing tomorrow, and God bless all of you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:27 p.m. from U.S. Car One of the "Heartland Special".