Bolden: Keep Moving the Ball Forward, Don't Get Discouraged

Bolden: Keep Moving the Ball Forward, Don't Get Discouraged

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden conveyed optimism today in a speech to the space business community in Maryland, urging them to not get discouraged and to “move the ball forward.”  Without promising that President Obama would mention space in tonight’s State of the Union address, Bolden offered suggestions on what the President could say if he chose to.

Bolden avoided specifics in his first major public speech of the year.  The President’s FY2016 budget request will not be released until February, so he could not talk about what the President has in mind for the agency other than commenting that he expects it to reflect a “vote of confidence” that the agency is on the right track.  “If you want to know what the future holds in our field, I think ‘more of the same’ is not too hard of a prediction to make.”

The key is “we’re moving the ball forward … bit by bit,” he said early in the speech to the Maryland Space Business Roundtable (MSBR) in Greenbelt, MD, a theme he repeated to the end.

The “absolute worst thing” would be “to interrupt that progress and go back to the beginning” he said, acknowledging “we did it in this Administration, almost, we didn’t quite go back and reset, there was an attempt made to do that, and we chose not to do that” but instead we “took the work that had been done prior to this Administration .. and adopted and adapted some of it so we are where we are today.”

Stressing that he was not suggesting President Obama would say anything about space exploration in tonight’s State of the Union address, Bolden said the President could say “for the first time in human history we may be going inside the 20-years-to-Mars.”   Sending humans to Mars still is “without a doubt” at least 20 years away, he clarified, but “we’re about to slip under that 20-year threshold.”

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly will sit with First Lady Michelle Obama during tonight’s speech.  Kelly is about to embark on a year-long mission to the International Space Station (ISS) to learn more about human adaptation to living in space in preparation for eventual human trips to Mars.

Other nations are counting on the United States to continue to lead in space exploration, Bolden said, and when he meets with other ISS partners about what they want to do next, they say “we’re going where you go.”  They have an expectation “that we know what the heck we’re doing,” and “we’ve got to be able to deliver on that promise.”

“We’re on a journey to Mars,” he proclaimed, adding that he realizes that people in the audience have heard that for so long they may not be as convinced as he is, but “I mean that…..I’m dedicated to that.”

“You’re moving the ball forward,” he told the audience.  “Do not get discouraged.  Do not let people tell you what you’re doing is not of great value to this nation…. Hang in there. … We’re gonna get there.”

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