Yesterday, one of the brightest stars ever to shine upon planet Earth departed our galaxy with the passing of former South African President, Nelson Mandela.
A man of incomparable strength, wisdom, and compassion who has been a personal inspiration for me for many years, Mandela accomplished one of the most remarkable feats in human history when he emerged after 27 years as a political prisoner in 1990 to free South Africa from the clutches of apartheid and lead its peaceful transition to non-racial democracy.
Next year marks the 20th anniversary of South Africa's first truly free elections. In addition to universal suffrage, South Africa today is a country full of promise that is becoming a beacon of hope and a moral leader among the community of nations. In 2010, the country even joined the international space community with the establishment of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA). Just two weeks ago, Jim Adams, our Deputy Chief Technologist, spent a week visiting South Africa for discussions on potential collaboration between NASA and the SANSA in our Asteroid Initiative. None of that would have been possible without the vision and leadership of Nelson Mandela.
As we enter the holiday season, I urge all NASA employees to take a moment today to reflect on the remarkable life of Nelson Mandela and the gifts of peace, perseverance, unity, and forgiveness he shared with us all.
Yesterday, as a tribute to Nelson Mandela, NASA tweeted an image of South Africa taken from the International Space Station. You may view this message at: https://twitter.com/NASA/status/408730127468470274/photo/1/large