|Posted on Jul 07, 2011 05:27:55 PM | Lori Garver | 0 Comments ||
We are on the cusp of a great milestone for NASA and this country with the final launch of the space shuttle program. I am so proud of the men and women of the NASA workforce, both government and industry, who have proudly flown the shuttle over the past 30 years.
The space shuttle has provided unbelievable benefits and return on investment to the American taxpayer. The orbiter fleet has launched spacecraft to other planets enabling amazing scientific discoveries; spacecraft that make possible communications that keep our service men and women out of harm's way; and of course the shuttle has helped build the International Space Station.
As Administrator Charlie Bolden said last week, human spaceflight is not ending with the retirement of the Space Shuttle program. Indeed, American leadership in space will continue for at least the next half century. We will maximize the use of the International Space Station. This is really our toehold for the future and the centerpiece of our human spaceflight program. We have extended station operations until 2020. We are working to reduce the gap in spaceflight for cargo and crew to the International Space Station.
Americans are so proud of our space exploration history and we believe we will be going further faster as we develop the next generation of spacecraft. We are working with our industry team on the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the next-generation capsule that's going to take our astronauts to those far destinations. We are working on the Space Launch System, the heavy lift rocket that will complement and carry the capsule. Once again, this nation will have the opportunity to raise the bar and do big things. Great nations explore, and we are going to demonstrate what human beings can do when we are challenged.
We have been given a road map by President Obama and Congress, a charge to reach those new heights and reveal the unknown and leave future generations with more capability than we have today. We've set our sights on destinations in the solar system, going beyond low-Earth orbit, first to an asteroid in around 2025 and then on to Mars in the mid 2030s.
NASA science has incredible things coming up. Just in the next six months, we will go to Mars with the Curiosity rover, to the Moon with our GRAIL mission, and to Jupiter with Juno. And there are many, many more missions coming up to improve the understanding not only of our home planet but the solar system and beyond.
We are investing in technologies that will make our rockets go farther and faster, so that we can continue to build on the capabilities NASA invested in over our first 50 years of history. We will also continue our cutting-edge aeronautics research and improve tomorrow's aircraft and systems that we all depend on to get from place to place on this planet.
The retirement of the Space Shuttle program is not an end; it's the start of the next chapter in American space exploration. As the United States continues to lead the world, we truly, truly salute the workforce of this amazing space shuttle program. We will be standing on the shoulders of the shuttle program as we embark on the next chapter of our nation’s journey of exploration.
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