The history of humanity is inseparably linked with achievements of the human spirit when, for the lofty goals of knowledge and progress, people sacrifice that which they hold most dear-life itself. The conquest of air, and then of space, has not been an exception and has furnished Mankind with exalted examples of courage, heroism and self-sacrifice. Space is merciless and it extracts a tribute from those who are so bold as to penetrate its confines.
This year, the whole world was shaken by the catastrophe of the Challenger disaster and the loss of the American astronauts. Cosmonauts and astronauts of all nations took the loss of the Challenger and its crew not only as a tragedy for the American people but also as a personal loss, a loss for all of humanity. We, the Association of Space Explorers, express our profound condolences to the families of the American astronauts and to all of the American people for the loss of the crew. This disaster leaves a void which, of course, nothing can ever fill.
But at the same time, we take pride in the courage of our colleagues and feel that we honor their memory best by dedicating ourselves to the exploration of space. This catastrophe once again shows how demanding and unforgiving space can be and how powerless is the human being by comparison. However, there is a force which ultimately overcomes the perils of space and places its secrets at the service of humanity. This force is the unity and cooperation of all on Earth to enhance the human spirit.
We are convinced that the heroism and self-sacrifice which mark the 25-year history of space exploration have not been in vain. By their deaths the explorers of space have opened up new paths for further advance and made them safer for those who follow. A grateful humanity will never forget its sons and daughters who remain forever in the pathway to space.