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Pedro Duque, John Glenn, Chiaki Mukai and Valery Polyakov

Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation 1999

Your Majesty,
Your Royal Highness,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a high honour for us to be here in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Prince of Asturias, and to receive the prestigious 1999 Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation. We are also honoured to be in the company of so many notable recipients in other fields.

These are people whose accomplishments are altering the course of our lives for the better, and the Foundation provides a great service in recognising their achievements. Such recognition, however, carries with it an even greater purpose, one of example to our young people that their efforts, in their own time, can reach even greater heights, if they apply themselves.

In the depths of the Cold War in 1962, Gherman Titov - the second cosmonaut - and I both presented papers on our respective flights at an international scientific meeting in Washington. The Chairman of the meeting, Mr. Van der Hulst, was from the Netherlands. He brought with him a pair of old-style Dutch wooden shoes, one of which he presented to Titov and the other to me, along with his wish that somehow, some day, we could find a way for the shoes to walk together in space.

Of course, his symbolic wish has now come true, not only for Russia and America, but for other nations as well.

The days of the Cold War have now been consigned to history, and space has become an example of beneficial international cooperation, with research results available to all.

In the past century we went from the first flight of an airplane to landing on the moon. Only in our imagination can we foresee what will transpire in the next hundred years.

Valery Polyakov is Russia's most experienced cosmonaut. He has flown in space with several different nationalities, and has spent more total time in space than any other person - Russian or American. That is a most impressive record and it is a very special personal honour for me to share this award.

One year ago next week the Discovery orbiter launched from Cape Canaveral. Along with the Americans on the mission - of which I was one - was Chiaki Mukai, representing the Japanese Space Agency, and your own great Pedro Duque, not only the first Spanish astronaut, but also representing all the member nations of the European Space Agency. I can assure you that Pedro did an outstanding job, and Spain can be exceptionally proud of him. It was a highly successful mission with 83 different research projects on board.

For thousands of years men have looked up and wondered what was up there. In our time, we have been privileged to be able to go into space and use space as a new laboratory. In space, thankfully, confrontation has given way to cooperation.

Already joined - and circling the earth even as we meet - are the first Russian and American modules of the International Space Station. They will be occupied starting next spring as the final reconstruction is completed over the next two years. Sixteen nations, including Spain, are cooperating in this largest-ever international engineering project.

We four, representing not only past accomplishment, but also future hopes, are proud to accept this award on behalf of all our colleagues, those in space and on the ground, in a continuing international effort.

Thank you.

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