Remarks by Telephone With Crewmembers on Board the Space Shuttle Challenger

April 10, 1984

The President. Hello, Bob. These calls -- --

Commander Crippen. Good afternoon, Mr. President. Thank you very much for speaking with us.

The President. Well, these calls between the two of us are becoming a habit. I promise you, though, I won't reverse the charges. Over.

Commander Crippen. I don't think I could afford them, Mr. President. [Laughter]

The President. Well, once again, I'm calling to congratulate you and the rest of the crew aboard the Challenger there on an historic mission. The retrieval of the Solar Max satellite this morning was just great. And you and the crew demonstrated once again just how versatile the space shuttle is and what we can accomplish by having a team in space and on the ground. I know you'll agree that those folks at the Goddard Space Flight Center did a fantastic job maneuvering the satellite for you.

And, Terry, I guess you made one long reach for man this morning when you snapped that satellite with the 50-foot robot arm. And George and Jim, you've done fine work as well. The pictures sent back of you working in space are spectacular. They're also a little scary for those of us that are sitting comfortably anchored to the Earth.

But, Bob, I understand that satellite you have on board would cost us about $200 million to build at today's prices, so if you can't fix it up there, would you mind bringing it back? Over.

Commander Crippen. Well, we're going to do our best to repair it tomorrow, sir, and if for some reason that is unsuccessful, which we don't think it will be, we will be able to return it.

We certainly concur with all of your remarks. The Challenger and its sister ships are magnificent flying machines, and I think that they can make a significant road into space with regard to repair and servicing of satellites. And we believe this is the initial step.

I would also like to concur with your remarks regarding the people up at Goddard who managed to put this satellite back in a configuration that we could retrieve it after the little problem we ran into the other day. Those people and the people in Houston and everybody that worked on it truly made this recovery possible. It is a team effort all the way.

It so happens we get to do the fun part.

The President. Well, let me tell you, you're all a team that has made all Americans very proud of what you're doing up there and what the future bodes for all of us with regard to this opening up of that great frontier of space.

And, seriously, I just want to again say how proud we all are of all of you, and congratulations to you all. Have a safe mission, a safe trip home, and God bless all of you.

I'll sign out now and let you get on with your chores.

Commander Crippen. Thank you, sir.

The President. Bless you. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:01 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House to the Challenger's crew, astronauts Robert L. Crippen, Francis R. Scobee, Terry J. Hart, George D. Nelson, and James D. Van Hoften.

The primary mission of the flight was the repair of the Solar Maximum Observatory, a satellite orbiting the Earth.