Visiting the Johnson Space Center

Today I had the privilege of sharing some time with the dedicated workforce at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. As the command center for our human spaceflight missions – and of course that means the centerpiece of our activities, the International Space Station — Johnson has had a critical role in the many accomplishments of humans living, working and discovering in space. The next chapter of America’s space exploration story is being written today, and Johnson will be on the front lines of that as well.

Johnson Center Director Mike Coats and the entire Johnson team are absolutely dedicated to America’s human spaceflight program. They train our astronauts, support our missions, test our crew capsules keep our nation at the forefront of space exploration.

Mike and I visited a mockup of the Orion Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) on which Johnson is working. Orion represents the next great step to destinations farther into the solar system. Powered by the Space Launch System we unveiled recently, Orion will take our astronauts farther into space than ever before, create high-quality jobs here at home and provide the cornerstone for America’s future human space exploration efforts.

In fact, nationwide, the MPCV represents about 2,700 total jobs. Right in Houston that translates to about 1,200 jobs, made up of 400 civil servants and 800 contractors. Combined with the extension of the ISS to at least 2020, mission control in Houston is going to be humming along for a very long time.

I was privileged to be a shuttle commander and there will be many more space explorers to follow. People who are passionate about space, who have been there or who want to go. Who know a lot about the challenges and risks and are there for their colleagues 24/7 as we work to do the big things for which NASA is known, and face the steep challenges of living and working in space that only those who are involved in it can truly appreciate it.

That’s just one of the many valuable things that Johnson has given NASA and the nation.

And as I stood beside Orion, the tangible representation of our future, it reaffirmed my optimism that our best days are ahead. That the excitement of our next destinations will inspire a new generation of explorers, and keep some of us who have been around for a while, working hard and sharing our expertise for a few more years yet as this next grand adventure gets off the ground.

I was proud to fly on the shuttle, but thanks to the efforts of the dedicated professionals at Johnson, tomorrow’s explorers will dream of one day walking on Mars.

So today I salute the Johnson workforce, and all they have done to keep the bigger goals in mind, using the strength and momentum of their long and wonderful history, and the determination they have always exhibited to make America the worldwide leader in space exploration.

For more information about the Orion MPCV, visit: