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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid