Mars as seen from Hubble telescope.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NASA’s Journey to Mars is about more than sending American astronauts to the Red Planet in the 2030s; it’s about bringing people together here on Earth. It’s about strengthening the American economy and with it the economic security of families throughout our country. It’s also about strengthening our friendships across sectors and also across national borders. This is why I’m fond of reminding virtually every audience to whom I speak that sending humans to Mars requires all hands on deck – government, industry, academic and international partners and citizen scientists – we need everybody.
Today, I’m embarking on a journey of my own – to meet with our global friends in international space agencies, governments, private companies, universities and other forums; folks who are eager to be part of NASA’s Journey to Mars. I plan to carry with me a message of partnership as I remind them of how much the American people value their friendship, especially when it comes to space – which in many ways is the great global connector.
It should not be lost on any of us that for the past decade and a half, human beings from multiple countries have been living and working together on the International Space Station (ISS) in common pursuit of human progress. It certainly is not lost on me, that a girl or boy age 15 or younger has lived every single second of every day of her or his life while human beings have been living and working together in space. Our grandchildren’s children may very well live every day of their own lives while human beings are living and working together on Mars.
For this reason, I’m a firm believer in the soft power that our country is able to demonstrate when we engage in space diplomacy. From our perspective at NASA, one of the most gratifying developments over the past few years has been the increasing number of nations who have joined the global exploration endeavor. Nations large and small, both with and without formal space agencies, have all come to the conclusion that everyone who has a passion for space can find a role and a place where their expertise is critical. In short, every single nation can play a part in our journey to Mars, in our scientific journey of discovery and in the next phase of humanity’s development as a spacefaring people.
Over the course of this trip, I will have the opportunity to discuss NASA’s Journey to Mars with the Israeli minister of Science, Technology and Space, the Israel Space Agency (ISA) and Israeli innovators, students and entrepreneurs. I’ll also be meeting with students in both Israel and Jordan who participate in the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) science and education initiative, of which NASA is a proud partner.
I’ll also be traveling to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to meet with colleagues at the UAE Space Agency. I’ll wrap up this trip with a meeting with NASA partners in the European Space Agency (ESA) at the ESA Council in Paris.
We recognize that NASA provides inspiration to dreamers and doers of all professions everywhere around the world, so we are looking forward to partnering with the US Embassy in Amman and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II to host a public dialog about NASA’s Journey to Mars while I am in Jordan.
Everywhere I travel, I meet people who are looking to the United States for leadership when it comes to space exploration. Time and again I hear enthusiasm about our Journey to Mars and an appetite for partnership in this remarkable pursuit of progress and possibility.
Together, we can bring humanity to the face of Mars and reach new heights for the benefit of all humankind... and we will.The author is the head of NASA, and will be receiving an honorary doctorate on June 7 from Bar Ilan University, where he will speak about NASA and the journey to Mars. This article originally appeared on his blog.