A Great Day for Equality

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This is a great day for equality and inclusion in America. In striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Supreme Court has sent a clear message that all legal marriages in America, regardless of gender, are deserving of equal dignity under the law. With DOMA relegated to history, we can now press forward with the important work of ensuring that all married couples are able to enjoy all the benefits and bear the responsibilities that come with Federal recognition of their marriages. The President has directed the Attorney General to work with other members of his Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision is implemented swiftly and smoothly. NASA looks forward to working with the Administration to fully implement the Court’s decision.

The defeat of DOMA is a victory for the spirit of fairness and inclusion that holds us together as one NASA family. As President Obama said, “The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom them love, we are all more free.”

A New Astronaut Class Begins Its Journey

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Today, NASA got to do one of those great things that exemplifies what we’re all about, something that points us toward the future and inspires future generations. We introduced the 2013 astronaut class to the world, and we couldn’t be prouder.

This is the first class in three years, and the 21st overall in our nation’s nearly 55-year journey in space. From a near-record number of applicants, more than 6,100, we selected an extremely qualified class that represents a high degree of achievement and dedication to our nation’s future. There are two Ph.D.’s represented, an M.D., and several naval aviators. They’ve served in the military, government and academia. They have the experience and physical and operational skills to help advance our nation’s space program.

The new candidates have diverse background and come from across the country, the commonality being that they have a commitment to excellence in all their fields of pursuit.

 

The new astronaut class represents the full tapestry of our nation. They are African American, Native American, and, for the first time, representative of women equal to the population – 50%.

This is the highest percentage of women ever in a class of astronaut candidates, and will set a new standard for women in the science technology, engineering and mathematics fields. They will join the 43 American women who have already flown to space and the 12 women currently in NASA’s astronaut corps. The announcement is especially meaningful as tomorrow we mark the 30th anniversary of Sally Ride’s historic launch as the first American woman to space aboard the space shuttle.

There is a deep and abiding interest in space travel in this nation, and there will be many opportunities for these trainees to fly in the future. As NASA lays the groundwork for a mission to an asteroid in the 2020s and human missions to Mars in the 2030s, this 2013 class of astronaut candidates, and the 2009 class before them, will be among those who will have the opportunity to plan and carry out these exciting missions, strengthen our nation’s leadership in space and push the boundaries of exploration.

 

The timing is especially appropriate as tomorrow we host an Asteroid Initiative Industry and Partners Day to get input on our planned, first-of-its-kind, mission to redirect an asteroid to an orbit nearer to Earth so that astronauts can visit it, collect samples and demonstrate the technologies that will help us to travel to Mars. This mission will be an early demonstration of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew vehicle currently in development for deep space missions. It will also demonstrate some of the many space technologies we are working on for tomorrow’s missions, such as solar electric propulsion, which will power the mission to redirect the asteroid closer to home.

 

The new class also will be among the first to fly on new commercial space transportation systems in development right now to travel to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station. We anticipate that by 2017 at least one of our commercial partners SpaceX, Boeing and Sierra Nevada will be able to carry astronauts to space from American soil, just as SpaceX today resupplies the station with cargo, and is soon to be joined in that endeavor by Orbital Sciences.

To read more about our new astronaut candidates, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/astronauts/2013astroclass.html

I send my deepest congratulations to the new astronaut candidates, and look forward to getting to know them. Together, we’ll reach higher so what we learn and do can benefit all humankind.

Orbital Launches: Another Successful Milestone in Our Exploration Strategy

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It was a thrill to be at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia today for the successful launch of the Antares rocket on its maiden voyage. Today’s test flight marks another important milestone in NASA’s plan for American companies to launch supplies to the International Space Station for fewer tax dollars, bringing this important work back to the United States where it belongs. I congratulate the Orbital and NASA teams that helped to make this achievement possible.

What Orbital did today is a culmination of the innovation that NASA has helped seed for the past several years. We’re returning space station launches to U.S. soil, first with cargo, next with crewed launches.

This is all part of our overall strategy: let industry develop the capabilities to pursue to low Earth orbit, something we have been doing for over 50 years, while NASA focuses on the farther destinations like an asteroid and Mars.

NASA continues to unfold a plan that we’ve been implementing since the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 gave us a strong bipartisan agreement on our direction. Commercial cargo and crew capabilities were a key component of that agreement, and our progress in both areas has been rapid. Our partner SpaceX has now completed two contracted cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station, and Orbital will later this year undertake its first demonstration mission to the station.

SpaceX, Boeing and Sierra Nevada are also working hard on the capabilities to carry astronauts to space within the next four years — returning this vital capability to American soil.

It’s essential that our commercial cargo and crew efforts be fully funded in President Obama’s FY2014 budget request, which was unveiled last week. The budget ensures the United States will remain the world’s leader in space exploration and scientific discovery for years to come, while making critical advances in aerospace and aeronautics to benefit the American people.

It continues investments in commercial space, technology development, Earth sciences and deep space exploration.

It’s a budget that advances our strategic plan for the future, building on U.S. preeminence in science and technology, improves life on Earth and protects our home planet, while creating well-paying jobs and strengthening the American economy.

Under this budget proposal, NASA has laid out a mission to fulfill the President’s challenge to send astronauts to an asteroid by 2025. Our plan is to send a robotic spacecraft to capture and move an asteroid, to then be visited by astronauts in trans-lunar space. This mission represents an unprecedented technological feat — raising the bar for human exploration and discovery, while helping protect our home planet and bring us greater understanding of these important celestial bodies.

Launches like today are critical to lowering our operations costs in Low Earth Orbit, so that we can maximize our utilization of the Space Station and gain the experience necessary to explore farther.

So as Antares successfully lifted off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, it truly was a future moment, a moment when we took another step toward making the next great era of exploration a reality. We look forward to the next milestones from Orbital and all of our commercial partners and to reaching higher toward an asteroid and on to Mars.

Advancing American Leadership in Space Exploration and Scientific Discovery

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Earlier today, President Obama unveiled his Fiscal Year 2014 budget for NASA. This request is a $17.7 billion investment in our nation’s future. It ensures the United States will remain the world’s leader in space exploration and scientific discovery for years to come, while making critical advances in aerospace and aeronautics to benefit the American people.

In 2010, President Obama challenged us to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and then onto Mars in the 2030s. Since then, we have been developing technologies and exploration hardware to send humans on those deep space missions. Using game-changing technologies, NASA is now developing a first-ever mission to identify, capture, and retrieve an asteroid. This mission represents an unprecedented technological feat – raising the bar for human exploration and discovery. Asteroids are incredibly important objects to humanity:

•     Scientifically – offering valuable insights into the origins of the Universe

•     Planetary threats – for their demonstrated role in shaping our planet and life on it

•     Resources – as a potential source of resources for future space development

•     Destinations – as a destination to advance our human exploration technologies and capabilities

That is why we made an asteroid our next destination for human exploration three years ago. In addition to funding this asteroid mission planning, our budget funds an initiative to accelerate identification and characterization of asteroids that pose a threat to our planet. We will use existing capabilities including the Orion crew capsule and the SLS rocket, to benefit more fully from our ongoing investments.

The International Space Station – where astronauts live and work every single day – is the centerpiece of human exploration. This budget sustains operations and allows us to perform technology demonstrations and scientific research only possible in microgravity, all helping to improve life here on Earth and plan for missions into deep space.

Our Commercial Cargo program is funded to keep already successful operations on track and our Commercial Crew program has the resources to ensure that our astronauts are launching from U.S. soil on spacecraft built by American companies by 2017, ending our reliance on other nations and opening up new commercial markets in space.

The budget funds our amazing fleet of scientific spacecraft, including strong support for study of the Earth and its response to natural or human-induced changes. And on the heels of the most daring mission to Mars in history last year, it provides funding to launch other missions to the Red Planet – including one later this year. We also will continue our steady progress to develop and conduct critical tests on the James Webb Space Telescope, leading to its planned launch in 2018.

NASA’s 2014 budget focuses on an ambitious new mission to expand America’s capabilities in space, steady progress on new space and aeronautic technologies, continued success with commercial space partnerships, and far-reaching science programs to help us understand Earth and the universe in which we live. It keeps us competitive, opens the door to new destinations and vastly increases our knowledge. It also supports the Administration’s commitment that NASA leads in science and technology through innovative solutions that inspire the world.

I am excited about this budget. While tough choices had to be made in this tight budgetary environment, I believe it strengthens us for the future and prepares NASA to continue to lead the way in this new era of exploration and discovery.

NASA Supports American Manufacturing

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During a visit to NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, I had the opportunity to see where NASA engineers were working on Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication, or EBF3. This innovation in fabrication is a kind of “additive manufacturing” machine that uses an electron beam gun, a dual wire feed and computer controls to manufacture metallic structures for building parts or tools in hours, rather than days or weeks.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because we’re seeing a lot about 3D printing in the news these days. President Obama specifically mentioned it in his State of the Union address as one innovative technology that will help us advance the future of manufacturing.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden is in Huntsville, Alabama, today at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center to visit NASA’s National Center for Advanced Manufacturing Rapid Prototyping Facility. MSFC is using a process known as selective laser melting to create complex parts for the J-2X and RS-25 rocket engines without welding. You can read more about Charlie’s visit here: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/technology/features/hi_tech_manufacturing.html

Other NASA centers also are working on 3D printing technology. NASA’s Ames Research Center is using 3D printers to enhance small satellite development. NASA’s Glenn Research Center is using additive manufacturing techniques on the RL-10 rocket engine injector. And NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is working on at ways lunar, Martian or asteroid regolith might be used to provide the raw material needed for 3D printing during deep space missions.

NASA is working with Made in Space, a California company, to demonstrate for the first time 3D printing on board the International Space Station. These tests could prove the technology needed to allow astronauts on future deep space missions to “print” the tools they need and, once used, recycle the tools back into their printers to make their next needed item. Future explorers of Mars might send printers and robots ahead of them to manufacturer their construction tools or even the building blocks needed to build their habitats on the surface of the Red planet before they arrive. The promise of additive manufacturing for space travel is profound, with applications in the near future right back on Earth.

Additive manufacturing is just one innovative process being research and tested as part of the work being done through the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). Following the President Obama call for the NNMI early last year, NASA partnered to create the first-ever National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Youngstown, Ohio.

The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute is comprised of a broad coalition of more than 80 companies, nine research universities, six community colleges, and 18 not-for-profit institutions. The institute’s focus is to accelerate additive manufacturing technologies to the U.S. manufacturing sector and increase domestic manufacturing. It fosters a highly collaborative infrastructure for the open exchange of additive manufacturing information and research and facilitates the development, evaluation, and deployment of efficient and flexible additive manufacturing technologies. Perhaps most importantly, it educates students and trains workers in additive manufacturing technologies to create an adaptive, leading American workforce.

Innovation in American manufacturing is critical to our success in space. To grow our space program – and our new technology economy – we must continue working to push the boundaries of what is possible. In fact, a new study shows that in FY 2012, NASA spent $5 billion in top manufacturing industries in the United States. From fabricated metal product manufacturing to computer and electronic product manufacturing, these investments are playing a vital role in our work.

Read more about how NASA is working with American companies to build the future in science, aeronautics and space exploration.

To learn more about President Obama’s plan to make America a magnet for jobs, visit here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/02/13/fact-sheet-president-s-plan-make-america-magnet-jobs-investing-manufactu

100 Women Leaders in STEM

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I was honored yesterday as one of the 100 Women Leaders in STEM at an event held at the Hart Senate Office Building here in Washington, DC, just up the road from NASA Headquarters. Some of the other honorees included Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, founder and CEO of The Conrad Foundation Nancy Conrad and Marion Blakey, the President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association. All these amazing women came together to talk about one thing: how we get more young women involved in science, technology, engineering and math.

NASA has a unique role in STEM. We are a beacon to the next generation, inspiring them to pursue STEM in school and as a career. And we are an employer. We provide the pipeline for students and young professionals. And we need those students to fill the jobs we offer. Our investments in STEM are not simply theoretical – we are looking for the people who will build the rocket ships and satellites of tomorrow.

STEM jobs bring so much to our nation. Regardless of whether they are in the field of space, aviation, clean energy, health or manufacturing, STEM jobs are high-tech, high-paying jobs. They contribute to our national economy and help us maintain global leadership. It is critical that we encourage students to study and go into STEM fields, and it is especially critical that we encourage girls to pursue STEM careers.

I was inspired by Dr. Sally Ride, who was a professional and personal role model to me. Sally was not only the first American woman to fly in space, she was also the youngest. Sally’s first Shuttle flight was the first space flight I paid any attention to. I think that was true for a lot of girls my age; I’ve heard the rest of her crew say they got used to being known as the “six guys who flew with Sally Ride.” Her inspiration will live on, and I hope that we will live up to her example to keep finding ways to encourage girls in STEM fields. Today, in a classroom somewhere in America, is a child who will one day walk on Mars. When she does, it will be in part because of the women honored yesterday who, like Sally Ride, are committed to ensuring that girls find ways into science, technology, engineering and math.

Farewell to an American Hero

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Earlier today a grateful nation bid farewell to an American hero. Neil Armstrong was revered not only for being the first human to set foot on the moon, he was also a war hero and throughout his life he seized every opportunity to serve his country and all humankind. Space exploration, as Neil knew so well, is about all of us – from the astronauts in flight to the engineers, construction workers and support teams on the ground to the millions of people around the world eager to see what lies beyond the next horizon. The words on the plaque left on the Moon by Apollo 11 read: “We came in peace for all mankind.”

Today, especially, it is important to remember that NASA’s vision is to reach for new heights and explore the unknown, so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind. It’s about making life better here on Earth and improving the human condition. Neil noted that geographic features and national boundaries disappear as you get farther from the Earth. You can see how fragile our planet is, and how small we are by the scale of the universe. From space you can see that we really are all in this together.

As Administrator Bolden said during today’s memorial service, “Neil Armstrong left more than footprints and a flag on the moon.”  He laid the foundation for even greater successes and paved the way for future American explorers to be the first to step foot on Mars or another distant planet.

We are planning a return flight around the Moon in preparation for a first-ever mission to send humans to an asteroid in 2025, and on to Mars in the 2030s. Our current plan, which we’ve detailed to Congress and the public, calls for an uncrewed flight around the Moon in 2017, and a crewed flight in 2021.

Neil Armstrong was the first human to walk on the moon. But today, in a classroom somewhere in America, is a child who will one day walk on Mars. And each step she takes will benefit all humankind.

Happy Labor Day

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The first Monday in September is a holiday for many of us. It’s the beginning of the school year and the time when offices switch from casual summer dress back to suits and ties. We’ve taken our summer vacations and are ready to settle in for the fall.

But it’s also a day to thank an American worker. Our great country exists because of the people who get out of bed every day to build bridges and roads, run the checkout stand in the grocery store, patrol our streets, and keep planes and trains running on time and safely. And many protections we take for granted – weekends, 40-hour work week, paid holidays like Labor Day – came from the struggle and sacrifice of the American worker.

Labor Day is national tribute to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It is appropriate today that we honor the workers who contribute so much to the strength and prosperity of our country. NASA is a great example of what the American worker accomplishes in this country everyday. Over 18,000 civil servants and tens of thousands of contractors make it possible for this nation to dream big and achieve amazing things.

NASA’s vision is to reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind. But we could not do any of that without the infrastructure created by the American worker. We could not build Mars rovers and launch rockets without the workers in the big factories and small independent businesses. We could not design the life support systems that keep us alive in orbit or on another planet without the teachers who help create an educated workforce. We could not create ways to make planes safer and more efficient without the innovators in the high tech sector.

To every American worker, whether you have the day off or are working hard, thank you.

Women’s Equality Day

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92 years ago, on August 26, 1920, the United States granted women the right to vote through the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. For almost 100 years, women have been making a difference by casting their ballot to make their voice heard. The ability to exercise this most sacred of our country’s rights is not one we should take for granted; we have no right to complain if we do not participate.

Our participation is critical in more than just the voting booth. In the last century, women have made tremendous advances in what have been traditionally male-dominated fields, such as engineering and science. The Benoit College Mindset List, which reflects the worldview of the entering class of college freshmen, for the class of 2016 noted that, for this class of students born in 1994: “Women have always piloted war planes and space shuttles.”

Here at NASA we have been working hard to increase the number of women engineers, scientists and supervisors. But we have more to do to foster the women currently in the workforce and encourage the young women just entering the workforce. We must make also ensure that today’s young girls have the opportunity to grow into women who will be astronauts, astronomers, mathematicians, and rocket scientists.

A century ago, women fought to be included in the most basic tenet of our nation’s government: the right to participate in our government. In the decades since, women have reached for new heights. I am able to work today as the Deputy Administrator of NASA alongside other amazing women here at NASA and throughout our government because of women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sally Ride and Eileen Collins, and so many others paving the way. All of these women fought to create opportunities for women, none more so than my friend Sally Ride, a pioneer whose all-to0-brief life nevertheless created new paths for women to pursue and whose example we will continue to follow. Sally and i also took our inspiration from another pioneer we have recently lost, Neil Armstrong, who made his legacy a crucible through which women could also take advantage of opportunities in science and technology. We honor the legacy of those who have come before us by becoming educated and informed citizens and by continuing to open up new avenues of opportunity for women everywhere.

NASA Welcomes Rocket Crafters and New Jobs to Florida

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Good news and the prospect of additional jobs are arriving on Florida’s Space Coast at the speed of innovation. Last week, on the 50th anniversary of Kennedy Space Center, I joined Florida Senator Bill Nelson, Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, and officials from Lockheed Martin for the unveiling of the first Orion capsule that will carry our astronauts farther into space than any human has ever traveled. The work leading up to Orion’s first test flight in 2014 is expected to support at least 350 Space Coast jobs. This week, the Space Coast economy got another boost when Rocket Crafters, Inc. (RCI), a Utah-based company, announced plans to move its budding high-tech aerospace business to Brevard County. The company expects that by 2017-18, it will have about 1,300 highly skilled aerospace workers, including former space shuttle employees.

RCI holds licenses for advanced hybrid rocket and aerospace composite technologies, as well as proprietary hybrid rocket design and analysis software. The company plans to develop new suborbital flight technology that would enable the completion of an intercontinental journey in about one-sixth the time it takes a conventional airplane.

This is further evidence that the Space Coast is open for business and positioning itself for the next era of space exploration. In addition to Orion’s arrival at Kennedy Space Center, NASA has recently facilitated agreements with the Boeing Company, Craig Technologies and others to use Kennedy facilities and equipment. And SpaceX recently became the first commercial firm to launch a successful resupply mission from the Space Coast to the International Space Station.

A year after the retirement of NASA’s space shuttles, the work force at Kennedy is remaking America’s gateway to space. Over the past three years, President Obama has fought to invest almost $1.4 billion in NASA’s 21st Century Space Launch Complex and Exploration Ground Systems.

As a result, a dynamic infrastructure is taking shape, one designed to host many kinds of spacecraft and rockets sending robotic spacecraft and people on America’s next adventures.

By investing in American companies—and American ingenuity—we are spurring free-market competition to give taxpayers more bang for the buck, while enabling NASA to do what it does best—reach for the heavens. We are also ending the out-sourcing of American space jobs and bringing them right back to Florida and other states all across the country.

This strategy is producing tangible results and our teams in Florida and across the nation are making steady progress.

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