Message to the Columbia Astronuats on the Inaugural Flight of the Space Shuttle

April 9, 1981

Commander John W. Young and Captain Robert L. Crippen, you go forward this morning in a daring enterprise, and you take the hopes and prayers of all Americans with you. You go in the hand of God and draw on the courage of life.

Our countryman and poet William Cullen Bryant said America is where mankind throws its last fetters. With your exploits, we loosen one more. Who, he said, shall place a limit to the giant's strength, or curb his swiftness in the forward race?

Through you, today, we all feel as giants once again. Once again we feel the surge of pride that comes from knowing we are the best, and we are so because we are free.

For all Americans, Nancy and I thank you and the 50,000 others who have worked to make this day possible. As you hurtle from Earth in a craft unlike any other ever constructed, you will do so in a feat of American technology and American will.

May God bless you, and may God bring you safely home to us, again.

Note: The flight, originally scheduled for Friday morning, April 10, was postponed because of equipment malfunction. The Columbia was successfully launched on Sunday morning, April 12.