But the Russian and American space explorers who gathered at Russia's Mission Control Center here yesterday were united in their grief. All had known at least some of the seven crew members - six Americans and one Israeli - who died Saturday aboard the space shuttle Columbia.
"I have lost a good friend," said Valery I. Tokarev, a Russian air force colonel and cosmonaut who flew with Rick Husband - Columbia's commander - aboard the shuttle Discovery in May 1999.
Husband commanded Discovery on that mission. Tokarev rode along to help begin construction of the $100 billion international space station. The orbiting lab is a joint project of many nations. But only two - one-time rivals Russia and the United States - have put humans in space.
Like many in the tight-knit space community, Tokarev and Husband spent months together. They trained for the mission in Houston and at Star City, the Russian space training center. They commuted to meetings in the same jet trainer and talked about many things, including what they loved best: their work.
"He was an excellent pilot," said the 49-year-old cosmonaut, "an excellent specialist." Tokarev said he felt as though he, too, had lost a member of his family.
Life on the Mir was hectic. But in a spare moment Anderson pointed out a porthole as they passed over North America and showed the crew where he was born, Plattsburgh, N.Y., Vinogradov recalled. "I tried to show him the place where I was born, Magadan, but it was too far north. It was impossible to see from Mir's orbit."
That week spent in the cramped, cluttered Mir was the start of a long friendship. "I knew Michael well, and our families became good friends," Vinogradov said. "My wife is now in Houston. I talked with her yesterday. She was on her way to visit Michael's family" and pay her respects.
Foale recalled turning on his television Saturday after returning from skiing and seeing what looked like "beautiful meteorites" crossing the sky. "What I saw was actually some of our dreams falling," he said.
The veteran astronaut, an astrophysicist, is no stranger to the hazards of space travel. He was aboard the Mir in 1997 when it was struck and heavily damaged by an errant unmanned Russian cargo rocket bringing supplies.
After Saturday's accident, Foale said, he spoke with his family, including a daughter in Houston who is a playmate of the children of some of the astronauts who were aboard Columbia. He wanted to know whether they wanted him to remain an astronaut.
He decided to remain in the program. So did all five other others training at Star City after similar soul-searching.
Even those who couldn't attend the memorial paid their respects at the vast, echoing control center.
About 20 engineers stood at their consoles, watching telemetry from an unmanned Progress rocket that lifted off Sunday loaded with supplies for the space station. It's scheduled to dock with the station today.