NASA's Charles Bolden: Americans Will 'Go To Deep Space'

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ABC NEWS: How important is your job in persuading the American people that there's still an important role for NASA during this gap?

BOLDEN: Personally, I'm not important at all. The position of the Administrator is critical in being "the" chief spokesperson for the President and the President's vision in terms of exploration, and so if we're not telling that story very well, I'm not doing my part.

The Office of the Administrator plays a critical role in being the spokesperson for what the President has envisioned, and as they say, the President proposes and the Congress disposes. With the 2010 Authorization Act, it was an overwhelming bipartisan agreement on the part of Congress as to the elements of that Act, what we should be doing in terms of commercial spaceflight, exploration, science, aeronautics, and the President partnered with them when he signed that Act into law.

In the full year Continuing Resolution that is now our 2011 Appropriations Act for all intents and purposes, once again you saw hard-fought negotiations between representatives of the President and representatives of the leadership of Congress who came together and again reached a bipartisan agreement in the Congress that was signed into law by the President. So you can't ask for anything better than that, and that's where we are.

That's why I tell people I am very optimistic. Space exploration has a bright future. Human spaceflight has an incredibly bright future. You know, everything that we did last week down at the Kennedy Space Center in celebrating the 50th anniversary of Alan Shepard's first flight for an American into space, everything we did, and Russia about a month ago in celebrating the 50th anniversary of human spaceflight, every speaker at those events emphasized that they thought it was critical for all of us to be able 50 years from now to look back and see how we had built on that progress.

We're just at the beginning. Fifty years sounds like a long time, but we're in the fledgling stages of human exploration beyond Low Earth Orbit.

ABC NEWS: I really appreciate your willingness to talk with me today. Thank you so much.

BOLDEN: You know, I guess I'd close by saying [you] will hear our detractors say, "But where are you going?" The important thing is that the destinations haven't changed since the earliest times.

This President has said he wants us to go to asteroids, eventually to Mars, even back to the Moon as necessary to enable us to get to these distant destinations.

Humans have not ventured beyond the Moon yet, and it's only been one nation that's ever gone there. If you go back and read Jules Verne or you go back and read people who wrote and dreamed, even before we had the first airplane, people have always wanted to go to deep space, and that's what we're trying to do. That's what President Obama has asked us to do.

This interview was edited for length.

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