- The Washington Times - Monday, February 3, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 (UPI) — The U.S. Senate Monday passed a resolution honoring the seven astronauts killed Saturday in the Columbia disaster and promptly adjourned for two days in tribute. Senate leadership sources said the adjournment allows members of Congress to attend memorial services for the seven.

"The Senate commemorates with deep sorrow and regret the fate of the Columbia space shuttle mission and when it adjourns today, it does so as a further mark of respect to the astronauts who lost their lives," the resolution said.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said the crew would want the program to continue after a cause of the disaster was determined.

"Each Columbia crew member was a pioneer," he said. "They would want us to recognize their sacrifices through our comments and through our review of their lives and through comforting of their families. I also know they would want us to determine the cause, to fix that cause and to move on in the same spirit of exploration."

Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., also passed on condolences on behalf of the Senate to the families of the dead.

"As they contemplate these losses, we wish them great strength, strength in knowing that their loved ones committed themselves to a great cause and in so doing created a path to the future that we will continue to celebrate," he said.

Congress plans investigations into the causes of the disaster on several fronts, including hearings by both the House and Senate Commerce Committees, which have jurisdiction over NASA's budget. The House Science Committee has also said it will hold hearings to determine the cause of the crash.

All seven members of the Columbia's crew were killed Saturday when the shuttle broke apart shortly after 9 a.m. during re-entry from a mission that began Jan. 16.

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