But there was one change in routine at mission control. Instead of an orbital map showing the location of the Progress and the space station, a billboard-size picture of Columbia's crew was projected on the central screen.

Sorrow and fear

Among the Russian scientists and explorers yesterday, sorrow was mixed with fear. Many here suspect that the space station's critics will use the disaster to kill the program and in the process sever Russia's last link to manned space flight, whose history began when Yuri Gagarian became the first man to orbit the earth in April 1961.

Russia's space program, while far smaller than in Soviet days, employs tens of thousands of engineers, scientists and other staff. They are scattered in state agencies and contractors across Russia and in several other former Soviet states.

Valery V. Ryumin, a former cosmonaut and the director of the space station for Energia, Russia's state-controlled aerospace company, showed up for the ceremony looking tired.

There were "various prospects" for the future of the international space station, he said in an interview. But he didn't want to contemplate the "gloomy" ones.

"We believe we should go on," he said. "We should think hard about how to go on working at the station. I am an optimist, and I always hope for the better. If you hope for the worst, why should you live at all?"

The nation's $125 million-a-year manned space flight program is already hanging by a thread. It was on the verge of shutting down last year.

"The threat was that the money would run out and that would stop the program," said Aleksandr Aleksandrov, a former cosmonaut who runs Energia's flight testing services. "And such a threat is still there."

Russia's space efforts could expand significantly if the United States and other nations decide to use Russian technology to keep the space station operating. But few here seem to think that will happen.

"The expansion can happen only if there is enough time and enough money," Aleksandrov said. "And the question is where the money will come from."

NASA optimistic

In contrast with their Russian counterparts, the Bush administration and NASA officials sounded optimistic yesterday about both the investigation into the causes of the Columbia disaster and the prospects for the resumption of shuttle flights.

U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow said in an interview that the White House's commitment to the space station "remains strong."

During the ceremony, he offered his Russian hosts more reassurance.

"We look forward to the day the space shuttle returns to space," he said. "That will be the day we truly honor the memory of the men and women of the space shuttle Columbia. It is challenging work. It is dangerous work. It is honorable work."

Kenneth Cockrell, director of NASA's operations at Star City, reminded the other mourners that they have a lot of work ahead of them - and a lot of responsibility.

"We have people in orbit now who need our support, and the support of the international space community," he said, referring to the two American astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut aboard the space station. "We need to maintain our focus on keeping this part of the space program operating safely. We must be ready to make the changes that will be necessary because of this tragedy."

NASA's optimistic, forward-looking message was best summed up, perhaps, by Philip Cleary, director of the agency's Moscow liaison office.

"We will get to the bottom of this," he said. "We will fix it, and we will get flying again."