Discovery's Final Flight

Today, the world watched the space shuttle Discovery launch on her final voyage to space. After 39 successful missions, counting the one begun today, Discovery has a rich history in human spaceflight. I can’t tell you all her wonderful stories, but she has been linked to many milestones. Go here to read about Discovery’s career in detail:

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and other NASA management watch the launch of space shuttle Discovery (STS-133) from the firing room at Kennedy Space Center, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Discovery, on its 39th and final flight, is carrying the Italian-built Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM), Express Logistics Carrier 4 (ELC4) and Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space to the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

It was my honor to fly aboard Discovery on the STS-31 mission in 1990 when she brought the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit for us. And on STS-60, when Sergei Krikalev, the first Russian to fly on an American spacecraft, was a crewmember. Discovery also was the orbiter for the final Shuttle/Mir docking mission and, after tragic losses, gave us hope when we returned to flight after the shuttle Challenger and Columbia accidents. The thousands of workers who have made Discovery’s storied legacy possible deserve our deepest gratitude.

While today is bittersweet for us, we are also excited about what the future holds for humans in space. Over the past months, we’ve seen many milestones in the commercial space industry that will help us bring humans to space in the future. Commercial space is fast becoming a reality and the capabilities NASA itself is starting to develop will reshape our perspective on what is possible. We’re looking at once in a lifetime opportunities to create the future. Let’s keep that in mind as we celebrate the history we have made and shape it anew.

Godspeed to the crew of Discovery on this tough bird’s final voyage!

Watch video of the launch here:

NASA's FY 2012 Budget Request

Earlier today, President Obama released his budget for fiscal year 2012. His plan asks us to live within our means in order to invest in the future. NASA accepts this challenge because we know that, in order to win the future, we must out-educate, out-innovate and out-build the rest of the world.

Here are a few highlights from NASA’s portion of the President’s budget:

• $18.7 billion for fiscal year 2012, which will require us to live within our means so we can make investments in our future.

• The budget supports all elements of our bi-partisan Authorization law enacted last year, including a reinvigorated path of innovation, technological development and scientific discovery.

• It includes $4.3 billion for the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs, $5 billion for science, $3.9 billion for future exploration systems (includes $1.8 billion for a Space Launch System (SLS) and $1 billion for a Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV); and $.8 billion for commercial crew) and $569 million for aeronautics research.

• The International Space Station will operate until at least 2020, allowing NASA to fully utilize it as a national laboratory for human health research and as a technology testbed.

• In these tight fiscal times, tough choices had to be made and NASA has prioritized funding for its partnership with the commercial space industry to facilitate crew and cargo transport to the station. Private companies will innovate to provide safe, reliable and cost effective access to low Earth orbit, and they will be encouraged to develop commercial low Earth orbit (LEO) destinations.

• NASA also will invest in the flight systems to take humans beyond low Earth orbit, including a deep space capsule (MPCV) and evolvable heavy lift rocket (SLS), and key research and technology to enable the long journeys.

• NASA’s science budget supports both new missions and the many space observatories and Earth observing systems successfully carrying out their work now.

• With the fiscal year 2012 budget request, NASA will continue its commitment to enhancing aviation safety and airspace efficiency, and reducing the environmental impact of aviation.

• NASA remains dedicated to developing the next generation of technology leaders through vital programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Despite the challenges ahead, this responsible budget sets ambitious but achievable goals that foster America’s continued leadership in space and science exploration. It’s important for us to remember that here at NASA we reach for new heights to reveal the unknown so the things we learn and the things we do benefit all humankind. We DO BIG THINGS, and by working together, we can win the future!

For more information, go to:


Thoughts on African Americans' Contributions to NASA

As we celebrate Black History Month across America, I want to send greetings to all and highlight the achievements of African Americans at NASA. Click play below to see my video message.

The White House is also publishing a series of blogs about the lives and achievements of African Americans in the Administration. Here’s a link to my contribution: