Los Angeles, CA, July 9, 1999 – Rick Tumlinson, President of the Space Frontier Foundation, made this statement regarding the death of astronaut Charles “Pete” Conrad, Jr.:
“The Space Frontier Foundation and the entire frontier movement is in mourning over the death of one of its leading advisors, Pete Conrad, who lost his life in a motorcycle accident this week.
“When you are building a revolution, as we have been trying to do for so long, it is often very hard to find people who are leaders on the establishment side who will take the risk and embrace you. Pete took the risk, and we will be forever grateful.
“The Foundation had a long and productive relationship with Mr. Conrad. Beginning almost a decade ago, when we joined together to fight for “Cheap Access To Space”, Pete showed that his definition of a space hero wasn’t just being a “right stuff” celebrity. He took responsibility, and he took action. He stood up with a few others and, years before the mainstream space community understood it, proclaimed his dedication to making space accessible to the people.
“His was the finger on the mouse as he drove the now famous DC-X from the little trailer in New Mexico as it broke the psychological “four minute mile” of reusable spacecraft. His was the comforting arm around the young man’s shoulder who blamed himself for a mistake that resulted in the loss of the DC-XA, and his were the soft spoken words of encouragement that these things happen – that we learn and move on.
“Mr. Conrad could have retired years ago and spent his life signing autographs, but this was not who he was. To many of us he was like a character from a Robert Heinlein science fiction story; a Renaissance man, engineer, space pilot, sailor and biker…combined with a poet’s soul and the guts to take a stand for what he believed.
“Pete so believed in the open frontier that he rolled up his sleeves and created “Universal Space Lines,” one of the brave new space transportation firms that are fighting to create routine and regular space transportation for the people of the world (and certainly the one with the coolest name…after all he liked to think big!)
“Pete was a good man, a strong man, and a man of vision in a field of endeavor desperate for such people. He was a risk taker, as the method of his passing shows.
“Pete Conrad was a revolutionary. And as revolutionaries, who looked to him and those like him as models, we salute him.
“When he and I were shooting a piece to sell the DC-X in Congress, I recall we needed him to tell us what it was like to take a ride to the Moon and back. Pete smiled and popped out a phrase that I gather he used often, and not one that you might expect from an oh-so-serious explorer. In that slightly high-pitched voice and with a big grin on his face he said: “It was SUPER!”
“Thanks for the ride Pete. May the horizon rise to meet you, and the stars guide you to forever.”