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."
"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."
"Our 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 travel network."
"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."
Administrator Bolden's entire speech is available at: