Mission Space: Obama Meets With Apollo 11 Crew

Jul 20, 2009 4:22pm

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller reports: Standing with Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin in the Oval Office this afternoon, President Obama called the astronauts “iconic figures” and “three genuine American heroes.” On the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, the first time man walked on the moon, the President said their mission was a “touchstone for excellence in exploration and discovery.” Obama said that he remembered as a young boy in Hawaii watching the Apollo missions. “I still recall sitting on my grandfather’s shoulders when those capsules would land in the middle of the Pacific and they’d get brought back and we’d go out and we’d pretend like they could see us as we were waving at folks coming home.  And I remember waving American flags and my grandfather telling me that the Apollo mission was an example of how Americans can do anything they put their minds to.” Obama said that NASA has inspired a generation of scientists and engineers that sparked innovation and creatively on Earth as well. “I think it’s very important for us to constantly remember that NASA was not only about feeding our curiosity, that sense of wonder, but also had extraordinary practical applications.  And one of the things that I’ve committed to doing as President is making sure that math and science are cool again, and that we once again keep the goal by 2020 of having the highest college graduation rates of any country on Earth, especially in the maths and science fields.” Obama just lightly touched on his vision of NASA under the new administrator and former astronaut, Charles Bolden who was standing in the back of the room, along with deputy administrator Lori Garver. “We are confident that they are going to be doing everything that they can in the decade to come to continue the inspirational mission of NASA.” The President did not address the new missions of exploration that many, including the men in the room, have urged his administration to look at and invest in new missions. At today’s White House briefing with press secretary Robert Gibbs said that the administration is “committed” to human space exploration and that a committee has been set up through NASA to evaluate the costs and come back with recommendations for NASA policy going forward. “The president looks forward to seeing those commission recommendations,” Gibbs said, “And I have no doubt that the president will get an opportunity to listen to astronauts that walked on the moon 40 years ago, listen to their perspective and get a sense of what those missions did for scientific discovery and how that will impact the future.” -Sunlen Miller

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