Telephone Conversation with Space Shuttle Atlantis Astronauts
The President. Hello? Captain Gibson?
Commander Robert L. Gibson. Hello, Mr. President. This is Captain Gibson. We're online.
The President. Welcome home, and congratulations. We are very proud of you.
Commander Gibson. [Inaudible]—Mr. President. It's a pleasure for us to be back, back on the ground again, and to have had the opportunity to take part in this flight.
The President. Well, the pictures were wonderful, and we all watched you with absolute fascination and incredible support and enthusiasm. This is truly the beginning of a new era of cooperation in space between the United States and Russia. We've built a new relationship between our two countries. We're doing things together. And I think that what you and your team and what the Russians did together symbolizes that more than anything that I could ever say. And I think because of your mission now, the United States and Russia, with our partners in Canada and Japan and Europe, are going to be able to meet the challenge of building the international space station. And I hope you and all of your team members will take an enormous amount of pride in that.
Commander Gibson. Well, thank you, Mr. President, for those extremely kind words. We certainly will. And I can tell you very honestly that at least all of us on the crew have a lot of very good friends in Russia and among the Russian Cosmonaut Corps and elsewhere in Russia. And I look forward very much to all of us continuing this.
The President. So do I. Before I sign off—I know you're tired and I know you're glad to be home—I want to offer a special congratulations to Norm Thagard on his record-breaking stay on orbit. We're all very proud of that. And I want to invite the entire crew to the White House as soon as you can come, because I want to hear some more about the mission and we need to talk about where we're going from here to keep the United States commitment to space exploration, travel, and to keep our whole program strong and alive.
Astronaut Norman E. Thagard. Mr. President, thanks for the words. This is Norm Thagard. The Russians took good care of me. We're great friends, so I think if what we did on a personal level is any indication, there won't be any problem with us on an intergovernmental level as well. And I'm sitting here looking at my two Russian crewmates, and I couldn't be more pleased with a crew that I've ever had.
The President. The next time we have any problems between American and Russian officials, I'm going to send them into space. I think I now know how to solve all international problems. [Laughter]
I thank you very much, and I look forward to seeing all of you. Welcome home.
Commander Gibson. Thank you, Mr. President. We really appreciate your time and your support.
The President. Thank you. Goodbye.
NOTE: The President spoke at 11:27 a.m. from the Oval Office at the White House.
William J. Clinton, Telephone Conversation with Space Shuttle Atlantis Astronauts Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/221684