Remarks by Telephone to Crewmembers on Board the Space Shuttle Discovery

September 1, 1984

The President. Well, hello to Hank and both Mikes and Steve and Judy and Charlie. Sounds like a little community or town you've got going up there.

Listen, we're following your exploits, and you're doing a great job. How's it going? Any surprises so far?

Astronaut. Mr. President, it's going real great. It's very nice of you to call us. We think we've got a good boat here, a tremendous addition to our national transportation fleet.

The President. Well, any surprises so far?

Astronaut. Well, I guess for the five rookies here, it's a big surprise for them. This is just a really tremendous ride. You ought to try it some time.

The President. [Laughing] Well, you don't mind if I think that over?

Listen, I want you to know that the men and women in the Navy and at Hughes Aircraft were thrilled by your perfect deployment of SYNCOM. That communications satellite is going to help all of us in this country, and believe me, we're grateful for your great part in getting it up there and getting it launched. And now, as of this morning, just a little while ago, you're three for three with the launch of the AT&T communications satellite.

Astronaut. Well, thank you, Mr. President. As a member of the Air Force, we're glad to help out the Navy any way we can.

The President. [Laughing] All right.

Listen, you know, I know the previous astronauts have now and then been able to pinpoint various things down here that they can see from the vantage point of space. And how do we look from up there? Have you seen anything unusual or things that you're going to be reporting on?

Astronaut. Well, Mr. President, I guess the biggest thing to us is that the world is covered with an awful lot of water, which is important to those of us in the Navy, anyway.

The President. Yes. [Laughing] Of course, it has been a season in which some of the Earth that shouldn't be covered with water has been covered with water, too.

Listen, your work up there is helping to make it easier for the people of the Earth to communicate with each other, so on top of being spacemen and a spacewoman, you're doing some very good work for your fellow citizens of Earth. And we're very thankful, and we're also very proud.

May I ask, is Dr. Judy Resnick near by?

Astronaut Resnick. Yes, sir, Mr. President.

The President. Well, Judy, how is it -- your first flight? How is it going? Is it all that you hoped it would be?

Astronaut Resnick. It certainly is, and I couldn't have picked a better crew to be flying with, even if they are all Air Force and Navy and Army guys fighting about who's best.

The President. Well -- [laughing] -- as for that, what does an electrical engineer do in space?

Astronaut Resnick. Whatever they tell me to.

The President. [Laughing] Well, listen, I also want to wish a happy 36th birthday to Charlie Walker. Now I know the birthday isn't until Wednesday, but I have the feeling that you'll all be so busy, and he'll be busy, as you'll all be finding a parking place at Edwards, so I just thought I'd send the greetings now.

Astronaut Walker. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

The President. Well, happy day.

Listen, what you're doing is so exciting that -- you mentioned about myself being up there. As I say, I'll have to think about that for a while and then see whether I can appoint myself as passenger. But our thoughts and our prayers are with you, believe me, and I say that for myself and Nancy and, I know, for all America.

But there is one thing: I'm hesitant about making any suggestions to all of you up there who know so well what you are doing, but if you will remember to just now and then build some ``down'' time so you can just sit back and watch the world go by. You know, there was a wonderful flier once -- his name was Magee -- he wrote a poem about the freedom that he felt flying above the Earth. And he'd fly with as much altitude as he could get, and as he put it, ``lose the bonds of gravity and hurtle through the clouds,'' and as he put it in one line of his poem, ``touch the face of God.''

I hope that with all that you're doing up there, I hope that you will have time for a moment like that. We're all very proud of you. God bless you all.

Astronaut. Thank you, Mr. President. As you're well aware, we're only part of a very large team that makes this happen, and we'd like to accept your kind words on behalf of everybody that helped get the Discovery airborne and helped us do this mission.

The President. I'll go along with that. And now, I'll say goodbye and let you continue with what you're doing. And we'll all be watching you on TV. Goodbye.

Astronaut. Goodbye, sir. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke to the astronauts at 12:15 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House. Discovery's maiden voyage was manned by Henry W. Hartsfield, Jr., Michael L. Coats, Charles D. Walker, Steven A. Hawley, Judith A. Resnick, and Richard M. Mullane.