Remarks in a Telephone Conversation With Commander Paul J. Weitz Aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger

April 7, 1983

The President. Yes. Am I talking to the space shuttle Challenger?

Commander Weitz. Yes, sir, you certainly are.

The President. Well, listen, first of all, congratulations on the continued success of your mission. I understand you're even ahead of schedule.

Commander Weitz. Well, we like to stay that way, Mr. President.

The President. Well, listen, the Challenger proves again the quality of our technology, and the versatility of the space shuttle serves as a symbol, I think, of our commitment to maintain America's leadership in space. But all of it would be without any merit at all if it wasn't for men that we have like all of you, Commander Weitz, and your pilot Karol Bobko, and your missions specialists Story Musgrave and Donald Peterson. And I know that while one of you has been out in space there in connection with the space platform, with the others this is your maiden voyage.

Commander Weitz. Well, thank you, sir, and we appreciate that. I know it's an old and well-used saw, but, yes, we just get the glory. We really get to stand on the shoulders of giants when we participate in this program.

The President. Well, you're pretty close to giants yourselves.

Now, I know that I shouldn't keep you too long because you're kind of anxious to make that space walk out there, and we'll be all watching for that down here. And just please know that all of us, the American people, are very proud of your service to your country and what you're doing. And we wish you well on the continued flight and on the space walk. [Laughing] I can't say I envy you. But we are very proud of all of you. Good luck to you on the rest of your mission, and God bless you.

Commander Weitz. Well, thank you very much, sir. It's an honor and a privilege to be here, and we very much appreciate your call.

The President. All right. Goodby.

Commander Weitz. So long.

Reporter. Why don't you envy them?

The President. What?

Q. Why don't you envy them? [Laughter]

The President. Because I -- I don't know. [Laughter] May be a little claustrophobia. They may be in outer space -- --

Q. Outer space. What are you going to tell the Chinese Ambassador?

The President. Hello. [Laughter]

Note: The President spoke at 3:21 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House to Commander Weitz, who was aboard the Challenger. Reporters were present in the Oval Office for the telephone conversation.