Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator
Discusses Agency's Future Endeavors
July 2, 2011
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
delivered a speech Friday about the agency's future. Below are excerpts
from his speech at the National Press Club in Washington.
Charles Bolden, NASA
"Some say that our final shuttle mission will mark the end of America's
50 years of dominance in human spaceflight; as a former astronaut and
the current NASA administrator, I'm here to tell you that American
leadership in space will continue for at least the next half-century
because we have laid the foundation for success – and failure is not an
"President Obama has given us a Mission with a capital "M" -- to focus
again on the big picture of exploration and the crucial research and
development that will be required for us to move beyond low Earth orbit.
He's charged us with carrying out the inspiring missions only NASA can
do that will take us farther than we've ever been. To orbit Mars and
eventually land on it. He's asked us to start planning a mission to an
"The president is asking us to harness that American spirit of
innovation, the drive to solve problems and create capabilities that is
so embedded in our story and has led us to the moon, to great
observatories, and to humans living and working in space, possibly
indefinitely. That American ingenuity is alive and well, and it will
fire up our economy and help us create and win the future now."
"So when I hear people say -- or listen to media reports -- that the
final Shuttle flight marks the end of U.S. human spaceflight, I have to
say . . . these folks must be living on another planet."
"We are not ending human space flight, we are recommitting ourselves to
it and taking the necessary -- and difficult -- steps today to ensure
America’s pre-eminence in human spaceflight for years to come."
"We have to get out of the business of owning and operating low-Earth
orbit transportation systems and hand that off to the private sector,
with sufficient oversight to ensure the safety of our astronauts.
American companies and their spacecraft should send our astronauts to
the ISS, rather than continuing to outsource this work to foreign
"Our destinations for humans beyond Earth remain ambitious. They
include: the moon, asteroids, and Mars. The debate is not if we will
explore, but how we'll do it."
"The International Space Station is the centerpiece of our human space
flight for the coming decade. Every research investigation and all of
the systems that keep the ISS operational help us figure out how to
explore farther from our planet and improve life here."
"I made a decision to base the new multi-purpose crew vehicle, or MPCV –
our deep space crew module -- on the original work we've done on the
Orion capsule. We're nearing a decision on the heavy lift rocket, the
Space Launch System, or SLS, and will announce that soon."
partners in the Commercial Orbital Transportation Service program,
SpaceX and Orbital, continue to meet milestones. The new participants in
the second round of our Commercial Crew Development Program have just
met their first set of milestones required by NASA."
"In addition to this space flight progress, we have a huge number of
amazing science missions coming up. We'll advance aeronautics research
to create a safer, more environmentally friendly and efficient air
"NASA is moving the ball down the field, because the status quo is no
longer what we need. President Obama has outlined an urgent national
need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build our competitors and
create new capabilities that will take us farther into the solar system
and help us learn even more about our place in it. NASA is ready for
this grand challenge."