Remarks by Telephone to Crewmembers on Board the Space Shuttle Challenger

February 9, 1984

The President. Commander Brand, I'd like to say a good morning to you and your crew. I'm talking to you from California. I don't know exactly where you are. I know you're up there someplace. But you're all doing a fine job on this historic mission.

And I'd like to say hello to Bruce McCandless and Bob Stewart who are sending us this spectacular television coverage of man's historic walk in space. Let me ask you, what's it like to work out there unattached to the shuttle and maneuvering freely in space?

Astronaut McCandless. Well, we've had a great deal of training, sir, so it feels quite comfortable.

The view is simply spectacular and panoramic. And we believe that -- maneuvering units first time working unattached -- we're literally opening a new frontier in what man can do in space, and we'll be paving the way for many important operations on the coming space station, sir.

The President. Well, that is just great. You've really opened a new era for the world in space with this mission. You've shown both our commercial partners and our foreign partners, who play an important role in this and other missions to come, that man does have the tools to work effectively in space.

I understand you had an opportunity this morning -- an unexpected or unscheduled thing -- maneuvering the shuttle and making the recovery of an object in space.

Commander?

Commander Brand. Yes, sir.

The President. What do you and Hoot Gibson and Ron McNair do while Bruce and Bob are working outside?

Commander Brand. Well, we're pretty busy in here just keeping track of them. They have a lot of tests to go through and, of course, it is the first check out of something that's rather futuristic, the backpack, the man-maneuvering unit. So, we're just monitoring them, making sure that we don't lose sight of them.

The President. That's good. [Laughing]

Say, Hoot, I understand you must have a special interest in making sure everything's working right up there, since your wife will be making the trip on board the shuttle this summer. Do you have any tips to pass along to her?

Astronaut Gibson. That's true, Mr. President, she is. She's going up about in August, and that's why, as you say, I've been trying to check everything out and make sure it's going to work well when she goes. The thought of myself going up doesn't bother me, but I think I'll be nervous when she goes.

The President. I can understand that. Do you think she'll enjoy it?

Astronaut Gibson. I know she'll enjoy it.

The President. Well, now, could I ask, how are the experiments on board the shuttle working out? I understand that you have one dealing with arthritis and other experiments on board that may lead to advances in manufacturing and various kinds of material processing.

Astronaut McNair. Mr. President, the experiments are working out very well. We're very pleased with the results we're seeing, and there's a lot of promise being demonstrated in all the areas you've just mentioned. And we look forward to getting them back on the ground and analyzed and make some good use of these results.

The President. Well, let me again congratulate all of you on board the space shuttle Challenger. You're doing a fine job. Your commitment and courage on this historic flight, I think, are an inspiration to all of us.

And I know that you have things to do much more important than getting a telephone call from Earth, so let me just say to you, have a safe journey home, and God bless you all.

Commander Brand. Thank you very much for calling, sir. We really appreciate it.

The President. That's my pleasure. All right.

Astronaut McCandless. We're all proud to be part of this mission.

The President. All right. Goodbye.

Note: The President spoke at 7:32 a.m. from Rancho del Cielo, his ranch near Santa Barbara, CA.