News / USA

Obama Calls Atlantis Astronauts on Space Station

President Barack Obama called astronauts aboard the International Space Station, one week to the day after the space shuttle Atlantis blasted off toward the orbiting lab on the final mission of the space shuttle era.

It was the voice of legendary musician Paul McCartney that woke up the Atlantis shuttle crew Friday.  "Good morning, guys.  Wake up!  And good luck on this, your last mission.  Well done," McCartney said.

It was the first, but not the only, familiar voice of the day.

President Barack Obama joked with the astronauts when he reached the crew aboard the space station Friday. "Oh, that's funny, see, because I was just dialing out for pizza," he said.

Mr. Obama told the crew that he watched the Atlantis shuttle launch on television in the Oval Office.  He said he was proud of their work and excited about the future of the U.S. space agency. "While this mission marks the final flight of the space shuttle program, it also ushers in an exciting new era to push the frontiers of space exploration and human spaceflight," he said.     

The president reiterated the highlight of the space policy he unveiled last year, directing NASA to develop spacecraft that can go beyond low-Earth-orbit to asteroids and ultimately carry humans to Mars. "...which is no small feat, but I know we're going to be up for the task," he said.

President Obama's space policy was a shift from that of his predecessor, President George W. Bush, who set a return to the Moon -- as a stepping-stone toward the planet Mars -- as the main goal.  During the Bush administration, NASA created the Constellation program with Mr. Bush's plans in mind.  That program was canceled during the Obama administration, after more than $10 billion was spent on it.     

Speaking to reporters from aboard the space station earlier Friday, astronaut Chris Ferguson, commander of the Atlantis crew, acknowledged his frustration with the ups and downs of U.S. space policy.

"We've had a lot of major programs, vibrant and very interesting programs, come and go at NASA without coming to, you know, fruition.  And a lot of that is politics-driven.  A lot of it is funding-driven," Ferguson said.  

Commander Ferguson said he would prefer that U.S. lawmakers focus on long-term strategies.  

"Look at the horizon.  Don't look one or two years in the future, but look at 10 years, and see where you want this nation to be.  And I understand that the president has his space policy and I think that that's fantastic, but we need to retain a coherent, meaningful space policy that will take us more than just one or two years in the future -- that will take us out to 10 and 15 years," he said.    

Lawmakers are awaiting a report from NASA that details the space agency's plans for a heavy-lift launch system that could go beyond low-Earth-orbit.

The U.S. space shuttle program, which has cost more than $113 billion, ends when the space shuttle Atlantis lands next week.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Official Pleased With Ebola Containment Measure

Official says three-day sensitization effort will help reduce infection rate of Ebola disease nationwide More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid