Texas Lawmakers Anticipate Shuttle Launch

Weather permitting, the space shuttle Discovery will leave the launch pad in Florida tomorrow. Two Texas lawmakers say the return to space marks a turning point for the space program which has roots in the Houston area.

Click to Listen

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn is one member of Congress who will watch with what he calls "great anticipation" to see ifthe Discovery makes its return to space on schedule, "I think it's important that we return to manned space flight and I know that all the folks down at Johnson Space Center have been working hard to make that possible and safety has to be our number one priority but we do need to get back in space."

One member of the Texas congressional delegation who plans to be at Cape Canaveral for the launch is Houston-area Democratic Representative Gene Green.Green saysthe launch would mark a first for his career as a congressman, "After seven terms in Congress and working on NASA appropriations for all those terms to make sure that we have both research but manned space travel and particularly this is the first flight after the Columbia tragedy and I would hope that there would be a lot members of congress to be there and show a lot of support for the astronauts and the team that has put this flight together."

Green has the Postal Service's space shuttle stamps on prominent display in the lobby of his office. HE says getting back to space is important, "Space travel and space research has been NASA's charge since President Kennedy and we have tragedys with Challenger and Columbia and we have to make sure that we get back into the game so to speak. We have to say, ok we've had the tragedies...we're going to fix them. NASA's research and space travel....sure it's great for a lot of things we do. I think it's also an image that as a country we want to give to the world. We stay with a program and what we learn from it will not only benefit our own country, but the whole world."

And lest anyone think that members of Congress attending the shuttle launch will be flying high on the hog to Florida, Congressman Green says he and his colleagues willboard Air Force C-140 troop transports at Andrews Air Force Base here in Washington at the crack of dawn and will return to Washington on the same troop planes later in the day.