Ramadan majlis welcomes Nasa’s Charles Bolden, an astronaut excited by the UAE Space Agency’s ambition to reach Mars.
ABU DHABI // The UAE and Nasa are working together to help make the impossible possible and turn science fiction into fact, a former astronaut told a Ramadan majlis in the capital.
“We are going on a journey to Mars,” Charles Bolden told an audience that included Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
“You’re going to help us turn the impossible into the possible and science fiction into fact because that’s what we do at Nasa.”
The administrator of Nasa said the world is on the cusp of a new era in space and aeronautics that will revolutionise travel by creating cleaner, faster planes.
“Our hope is to one day get you to travel from Abu Dhabi to New York in a little over an hour. One day we’ll be able to do that.”
On Sunday, the UAE Space Agency and Nasa signed an agreement to cooperate on space exploration. It covered cooperation and collaboration in space science, operational Earth observation and Earth science, aeronautics, space operations and exploration, education, technology, safety and mission assurance.
A veteran of four space flights, Mr Bolden, who spent more than 680 hours in space, said he was impressed with the work of the UAE Space Agency.
“There is no shortage of smart people in the UAE,” he said. “I wish I could take some of them back home with me to (Washington) DC.”
Even although there were challenges to overcome, the former astronaut said Nasa was closer to sending humans to Mars, and bringing them back again, than it has ever been.
“It’s going to be a return journey. I’m not sending anyone to Mars on a one-way ticket,” he said before going on to explain how the James Webb Space Telescope will replace and surpass the achievements of the world-famous Hubble telescope.
“The advancements in that telescope will dwarf the data and knowledge that we have,” he said adding that the US$8.8 billion telescope was expected to be launched in two years.
Mr Bolden explained how Nasa’s cooperation with international partners will enhance scientific discovery and technological innovation that will lead to societal benefits and invigorate economies.
“We are going to be working hand in glove, getting the UAE involved in aeronautics and the Mars Mission. I applaud UAE’s investment in Khalifasat,” said Mr Bolden.
The 69-year-old, who piloted space shuttle Columbia for the first time in 1986, dubbed this generation the “Mars Generation” as it heralded an era of diversity and inclusion.
He commended the number of men and women studying space programmes at UAE universities.
“This is our story to Mars. I’m going to be sitting on my rocking chair one day, thinking of my time in the UAE and our talk on the UAE’s first satellite to Mars.”
Source: uae news