NASA Administrator Discusses Agency's Future Endeavors

WASHINGTON -- 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.

"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 option."

"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 asteroid."

"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 governments."

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