A Chance to Speak With Tomorrow's Leaders

A big part of NASA’s mission has always been to educate students and inspire the next generation of explorers, whether they’re astronauts, scientists or engineers. That mission has never been more important than right now. The President has challenged us to win the future, and to do that, we must win the race to educate our children.

I had the privilege today to speak to a great group of students at the MathScience Innovation Center in Richmond, Virginia. It’s always a pleasure to talk to young people. They are eager to create the future. These students know how important math and science is, and their teachers and parents know how important it is that they have a chance to learn and build skills in this area. Studying science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, opens up many diverse career opportunities and helps our country create a future that innovates to solve problems, create new technologies to meet our needs, and explore the boundaries of our solar system and beyond.

What students across the United States and the students I met with today from Albert Hill Middle School learn today will help us be globally competitive tomorrow. Today, the students built paper rockets. Tomorrow, they may be putting the final touches on a new design for a NASA rocket that carries a science payload or a crew of humans into the next great chapter of exploration.

The President’s call for us to win the future means we all need the skills and capabilities to stay competitive in the global economy. STEM education is not just about filling heads with knowledge. It’s about creating prosperity now and for future generations. As our commercial partners develop better and more cost effective ways for reaching low Earth orbit and we at NASA plan and design the missions that will explore our home planet in greater detail to reach for the outer solar system and beyond, good high-tech, high-paying jobs will continue to grow in the STEM fields. Students who study and prepare for the STEM fields will have the chance to take part in this whole universe of opportunities. As a result of their hard work and determination our country will be stronger and more competitive.

Here’s a great picture of me learning from the students:


Photo credit: NASA/Paul Alers

See this and other photos from the event at Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nasahqphoto/5396383560/

Thoughts on the President's State of the Union Address

Tonight, President Obama delivered a powerful State of the Union message to the nation. His focus on innovation, education and building are the foundations for our future success as a nation – and the key to economic recovery and long-term fiscal stability.

At NASA, we’re making contributions in all of these areas. Our education initiatives inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs. Our groundbreaking work on innovative technologies to solve some of the greatest challenges we face is why people turn to NASA for help in times of crisis, whether it’s firefighters in California or rescue workers in Chile trying to save trapped miners. And as we continue to maintain our world leadership in human spaceflight, we are working to help build the space transportation systems of tomorrow, incentivizing commercial companies to compete in the space marketplace and reducing our costs. Fifty years ago, another young President propelled a fledgling space agency on a bold, new course that would push the frontiers of exploration to new heights. The 21st Century course that President Obama has set our agency on will foster new industries that create jobs, pioneer technology innovation, and inspire a new generation of explorers through education – all while continuing our fundamental mission of exploring our home planet and the cosmos.

At NASA, we’re always reaching for new heights and hoping to reveal the unknown, so that what we do and what we learn will benefit our great nation. Tonight’s message of opportunity and inspiration will guide us as we reach even higher, building a better tomorrow and ensuring that we win the future for this generation and generations to follow.

A Day of Remembrance for a Great President

Today we recognize the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of John F. Kennedy as president of the United States. While he is remembered for many things, one of his primary accomplishments was setting our nation on a path of unprecedented achievement. President Kennedy gave our Nation and NASA a great challenge. His vision and direction drove NASA to do what many thought was impossible. And we at NASA accomplished the task. President Kennedy therefore gave NASA its driving force, one that is as important today as it was then — to accomplish the seemingly unattainable using our unique talent, drive, and innovative skills.

It was my pleasure and honor today to travel to the U.S. Capitol with Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and Associate Administrator for Education Leland Melvin to join with dozens of others in the historic rotunda to commemorate the occasion of President Kennedy’s inauguration. Vice President Biden spoke and there were many members of the Kennedy Administration on hand as well as members of the family. There were speeches and music and a lot of remembrance of the promise of those times.

I think NASA still carries forth the spirit of President Kennedy’s directive. Today, among many initiatives, we’re at the starting gate as we strive to reach an asteroid with humans, and also the moons of Mars and Mars itself. Our science missions are returning incredible amounts of information about destinations we could only dream about in the 1960s, and many more are poised to launch deep into our solar system and to peer beyond it. We have ten more years aboard the International Space Station in which we will make advances in human health research and make use of the unique microgravity environment to uncover the properties of materials that will help technology development on Earth.

Today’s event was a stirring reminder of what we can achieve when we set our sights on a goal that may be just out of reach today but not out of sight if we work hard for it.

Here is a link to Majority Leader Harry Reid’s remarks about how President Kennedy helped shape the future of exploration, science and technology in America:


And here’s a photo from this moving ceremony:

Image above: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, third from left, introduces EdwardMoore Kennedy III,
fourth from left, to NASA Astronaut Leland Melvin,left, and former NASA Astronaut Scott
Altman, second from left, asEdward’s mother Kiki Kennedy, wife of Edward M.
Kennedy Jr. and NASADeputy Administrator Lori Garver, right, look on at an event recognizing
the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of John F. Kennedy asPresident of the United States,
Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 in the rotundaat the U.S. Capitol. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

See this and other photos from the event on Flickr

NASA Family Reaches Out After Tucson Tragedy

The thoughts and prayers of the entire NASA family continue to be with Congresswoman Giffords, her husband Mark Kelly, their family, and the families and friends of all who perished or were injured in Saturday’s senseless tragedy. Yesterday, we joined in a moment of silence with the President and First Lady, the crew of the International Space Station, and the American people to remember and honor those touched by this tragedy. Scott Kelly, Expedition 26 Commander on board the ISS and Congresswoman Giffords’ brother-in-law, spoke from orbit yesterday before leading the crew and NASA Mission Control in Houston in the moment of silence. You can hear his powerful comments here:


I know that many people are continuing to follow the news from Tucson closely, and we have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support and goodwill from our fellow Americans in the aftermath of this heartbreaking event. If you are interested in sending a message of support or expressing your concerns for the Kelly family, you can post something on this message board we have set up:


Please continue to keep Congresswoman Giffords, Mark, Scott and all of the affected families in your thoughts and prayers.