Science and Exploration

Rice University Remarks by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
September 12, 2022
Filed under , , ,
Rice University Remarks by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson
NASA Administrator Nelson

As prepared for delivery:

Director Wyche and members of the NASA family;

President DesRoches and the Rice University community;

Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson; Representative Brian Babin; Representative Shelia Jackson Lee; Representative Al Green; Representative Sylvia Garcia; Representative Lizzie Fletcher; and Mayor Turner;

And Senator John Cornyn; Senator Ted Cruz; and Representative Randy Weber who sent in videos.

And, of course, educators and students from the Houston Independent School District;

Throughout America’s story, there are defining days. Days when minds change, hearts fill, and imaginations soar. Days when visions transform the trajectory of the American story – our story.

One of those days happened sixty years ago.

It happened in this same city. At this same stadium. In the same sweltering heat of a sunny September day.

On that day sixty years ago, seven famous words reverberated throughout this stadium and carried across the country: “We choose to go to the Moon.”

President Kennedy knew that vision would be hard, not easy. He made that clear.

He said, “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

He understood we still had to make major scientific and societal advances.

But he also sensed something else: our country’s can-do spirit. It’s a spirit that drives us to make the impossible, possible – and we came together to do just that.

The space program propelled to the forefront of culture and consciousness. It galvanized a historic effort that we are now the stewards of.

We must never stop daring to take the next Moonshot. And Moonshots don’t just happen in the cosmos but also here on Earth.

Today, at the John F. Kennedy Library, President Biden is taking the Cancer Moonshot to new heights. We can end cancer as we know it.

And today in Space City, a new generation – the Artemis generation – stands ready. Ready to return humanity to the Moon and take us further than ever before: to Mars.
No, it’s not going to be easy. It’s still going to be hard.

Somethings never change – not even after sixty years.

Some nations on our planet do not engage in our mission of goodwill. But we go in peace, as President Kennedy said.

And today, we have invited other peoples of the Earth to join us in this great international adventure.

Doing what is hard and achieving what is great, that’s what stirs humankind. That’s what unites us.

With inspiration and innovation, no hard Herculean effort is too large. No Moonshot is beyond our reach.

For example, the James Webb Space Telescope is giving humanity a view of our universe that we have never ever seen before.

From new forming stars to devouring black holes, this telescope is revealing all this and more.

Now the Artemis generation is about to leave quite a mark.

This generation – all of YOU, students from all over America, students from throughout the world – this generation will choose to go to Mars.

That journey begins right now with humanity’s return to the Moon.

We all hoped Artemis I would already be on the way to the Moon.

But the NASA team has been working around the clock. Their resolve and perseverance are unrivaled.

I have full faith in this team and this mission.

We will launch when we are ready. But mark my words: We are going.

When the final go is given, Artemis I will roar to life and soar to the Moon.

Every observation we make and every lesson we learn on this first Artemis journey prepares the way for humans to venture even further.

Mars is calling!
Why? Because it’s in our DNA to explore.

Billions of years ago, the dry, toxic Red Planet we know as Mars might have once been like Earth. Where did the water go? Why did the atmosphere change?

Humans can discover much more than robotic explorers. We are more efficient, not to mention our intuition.

And these missions of tomorrow will be sparked by the accomplishments of the Artemis generation today. It’s a new era of pioneers, star sailors, thinkers, and adventurers.

They are ready to learn what it will take to establish a new community on a new cosmic shore.

Sixty years ago, President Kennedy put wind in our sails on the new sea of space exploration. And that mission is never-ending.

It’s a mission about science and the advancement of the human spirit to expand what is possible.

Let us continue the quest to unfold this universe.

And let us continue find unity in our discovery.

So together, as Don Quixote reminds us, let us continue to dream the impossible dream that now becomes real.

And then let us traverse the untouched terrain of the once unreachable stars.

As President Kennedy implored, “We ask God’s blessing on this, one of the greatest adventures in the history of humankind.”

Thank you, and God bless our country.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.