Statement on the Landing of the Space Shuttle Columbia Following Its Inaugural Flight

April 14, 1981

Your brave adventure has opened a new era in space travel. You put new worlds within closer reach and more knowledge within our grasp.

We thank God for your safe return.

You were right, Captain Crippen, when you said the Columbia and her voyage would mean much to this country and to the world. Today the world watched us in triumph. Today our friends and our adversaries are reminded that we are a free people capable of great deeds. We are a free people in search of progress for mankind, and today we found a little more.

We are grateful to you and to those who have worked with you. We are proud of you, and we are proud of our country.

Welcome home.

Note: Assistant to the President James A. Baker III read the statement at welcoming ceremonies for Comdr. John W. Young and Capt. Robert L. Crippen, who had earlier landed the Columbia at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The ceremonies were held at Ellington Air Force Base near the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Tex.