- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 2, 2003

Press comment from around the world Sunday predicted at least a year's stoppage in the U.S. space program while NASA investigated the Columbia shuttle tragedy, with some reports speculating that the American space effort might be closed down altogether.

In Toronto, the Globe and Mail reported that two Canadian astronauts, Steve MacLean and Dave Williams, scheduled to take part in shuttle flights in May and December could see their flights scrapped.

The paper quoted Marc Garneau, head of Canada's Space Agency, as saying: "The missions are compromised. The investigation will certainly take time. If there is a problem that affects all of the shuttles, it will certainly take time to correct that."

The Japan Times also raised questions about the future of the Space Program. Japan makes five components of the International Space Station — a joint initiative with the United States, Russia and the European Union. But Japan has postponed indefinitely delivery of the first module from its scheduled March date.

In Melbourne, Australia, The Age was among the newspapers that expressed hope that what happened to Columbia won't lead the United States to abandon space research.

The paper said the international community should acknowledge that while no one knows what benefit to mankind, if any, might arise from space exploration, "it is one of the best examples of American extroversion, and it is to be hoped that this newest disaster will not be enough to prompt calls by many Americans to retreat into isolation."

Meanwhile, in Beijing, the English-language version of the People's Daily reported: "A senior Chinese official said China is going ahead with its manned space mission; and another project to explore the moon is under serious consideration."

For the most part, newspapers in the Arab world reported the Columbia break-up Sunday without comment. This also goes for Iraqi papers, which carried front-page stories underneath lengthy reports of Saddam Hussein meeting with generals, an almost daily occurrence.

The headline in Al-Thawra, the ruling Baath Party newspaper, was: "Columbia shuttle crashed and all the crew was killed."

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