Support strong for space exploration - Nasa

2011-10-04 09:15
Nasa administrator Charles Bolden has said the US strongly supports space exploration. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Nasa administrator Charles Bolden has said the US strongly supports space exploration. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - The public still supports space exploration, despite the economic downturn and the retirement of the space shuttle, Nasa has said.

"I would not agree that public sector and Congress and others don't believe in space exploration - far from it," Nasa administrator Charles Bolden told News24.

Bolden was speaking with colleagues from global space agencies at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Cape Town.

He said that the US was determined to continue space exploration, but that Nasa had to make efforts to reduce the costs.

Co-operation

"In the 2010 Authorisation Act it was stated very clearly by bipartisan voice of the Congress: A way for us that included science, human space flight, exploration; aeronautics.

"I don't think the public sector has lost their interest; I think the public sector is demanding that we produce affordable systems, with very sounds plans that are sustainable - that will last over multiple administrations in the United States."

Nasa has turned to Russia to launch astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) after the retirement of the shuttle and Bolden said that collaborations would continue as they were in the best interests of the US.

"International co-operation is important not just because of finances, but because we can no longer... in this day and age, you can no longer afford to leave ideas on the table.

"We don't have the corner on the market on everything technological. I can go to any of my colleagues here and we can pick a topic and they will dwarf me in their knowledge of it.

"So we need to be able to take the best from all of us in trying to go forward in exploration," Bolden said.

Nasa hopes to transfer US launch capability to private companies and firms like SpaceX have already demonstrated their ability to launch vehicles into low-Earth orbit and return them to Earth.

Industry involvement though, does not negate governments' commitment to space exploration, the ESA said.

"Using industry and using more private industry does not change the fact that they [governments] are the ones paying. They are still to be motivated because they are the one who pay," said Jean-Jacques Dordain, director general of the European Space Agency.

The IAC is being held in Africa for the first time and runs until October 7.


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