Alva Review-Courier -

NASA Administrator Bridenstine tells of goal to plant American flag on Mars, praises President Trump

• Buzz Aldrin was second man to walk on the moon – Do you know the other `first' thing he did?


August 28, 2019

Yvonne Miller

A former Oklahoma U.S. Congressman, Jim Bridenstine is now the NASA Administrator after appointment by President Trump. He was a featured speaker at the 11th Annual Steamboat Institute Freedom Conference last weekend, which is organized by 1975 BHS graduate Jennifer Schubert-Akin.

Oklahoma's own Jim Bridenstine was nominated by President Donald Trump, confirmed by the U.S. Senate and sworn in as NASA's 13th administrator April 23, 2018. He was the closing speaker at the 11th Annual Steamboat Institute Freedom Conference last weekend in scenic Steamboat Springs, Colorado. A 1975 Burlington High School graduate, Jennifer Schubert-Akin is CEO of the Steamboat Institute and also co-founder with her husband Rick Akin.

In her welcoming letter in the conference program, Schubert-Akin wrote, "Closely following the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, we are excited to celebrate the future of the space program with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine."

He was elected in 2012 to represent Oklahoma's First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives where he served on the Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee. He began in the U.S. Navy flying the E-2C Hawkeye off the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier. Transitioning to the U.S. Naval Reserve, Bridenstine became the executive director of Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium. Most recently he transitioned to the 137th Special Operations Wing of the Oklahoma National Guard.

"Just know this – we are way ahead ... getting further ahead," Bridenstine said of NASA compared to other countries also in space exploration. "The president has given us very clear direction and he's backing it up with his budget requests that are now getting strong bi-partisan support."

Regarding equipment, Bridenstine said they are now going to the international space station commercially, will no longer be government purchased, owned and operated. NASA is buying services from commercial operators, which is driving down costs and increasing access. To that comment, the room-full of capitalists applauded.

"I don't know if you heard the president say it in his state-of-the-union, but we will be launching again American astronauts on American rockets from American soil for the first time since retirement of the space shuttles in 2011." This comment received more applause and a standing ovation.

"These are very exciting times. There's a lot of missions NASA has underway," he said.

NASA's goal is to see many commercial customers competing against each other. They are buying commercial services and have numerous lines of initiative such as industrial bio-medicine and advanced materials using the international space station to create the demand for these activities in a micro-gravity environment. The purpose is for these activities to be transformative for the human condition here on earth.

Bridenstine said NASA wants to see the day when competitive companies in human-tended space stations are orbiting that NASA does not own or operate. By competing against each other on cost and innovation it will drive down costs and increase access. NASA wants to do that at the launch and at the moon.

The ultimate goal is to make the moon a launch pad for astronauts to explore other planets. Bridenstine said that President Trump says that NASA will plant an American flag on Mars. Why is that so important he asked? "Because where an American flag is equals freedom."

NASA wants to use the resources of the moon. The administrator said they've discovered hundreds of millions of tons of water ice on the moon, which is a supply of hydrogen and oxygen.

As he did several times while speaking, Bridenstine said the achievements of NASA give the elements of national, diplomatic and informational power. NASA is an element of national power that is a way of changing the perception of people around the world about the United States of America, he said.

President Trump created the National Space Council and has Vice President Mike Pence as chairman. "He is a true leader in space exploration," Bridenstine said of Vice President Pence.

He mentioned all the licensed commercial entities that utilize space beyond NASA, such as Direct TV, Dish, XM Radio, etc. with satellites. Government entities utilize space including the Department of Commerce, Department of Transportation, Department of Defense and so on. "Even agricultural depends on space because of new technologies developed," he said of specialized irrigation systems and much more.

With all this use in space, the National Space Council oversees and coordinates it and meets at least once per quarter. Bridenstine credits President Trump for his anti-regulatory environment, which he said helps. Bridenstine said China is absolutely a rival of the U.S. in space and reportedly "calls space America's Achilles Heel." He said China's space program is run by the PLA (People's Liberation Army) so said they are not doing the science NASA is doing.

In the micro-gravity environment of space scientists can use human cells to create human organs, he said of ongoing research in that area. Retinal implants can be created in micro-gravity. Also, people with macular degeneration will not lose their eyesight, he said, specifying all of that research is in experimental stages.

When NASA goes to the moon next time (an estimated five years), some highly qualified women astronauts will be on board, he said. Since the early day missions were called Apollo, looking back in Greek Mythology, Apollo's twin sister was named Artemis. The administrator said those next flights will be called Artemis, the goddess of the moon.

During the question and answer portion of his presentation, someone asked Bridenstine what his handle was as a fighter pilot. "It was Brain Stem. Some people just called me Stem," he said while the audience laughed. "I like to tell people that's cause I'm smart, but my lieutenant commander couldn't pronounce my name so he just started calling me Brain Stem."

Bridenstine Shares Little Known Fact about Apollo Astronauts

As Bridenstine began his presentation to the SI Freedom Conference audience, he spoke of the early days of America's space program with the Apollo flights. "JFK gave us a vision." He named "the Soviet Union was our greatest competitor at that time." The Russians were ahead of the Americans and JFK said the USA was going the 240,000 miles to the moon by the end of the year and they did.

On Christmas Eve 1968 Apollo 8 was orbiting around the moon. The crew was told they were to give a message to the world and it better be profound. Bridenstine said their message was the first words of the Bible, Genesis 1:1-5: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light 'day,' and the darkness he called night.' And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day."

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to land on the moon in Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969. Bridenstine shared that when they landed, Aldrin asked for a moment of silence and then partook of communion (bread and wine) he had brought from his home church where he was an elder. He read John 15:5, which says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." Bridenstine said of Aldrin. "He took communion on the surface of the moon – another world for the first time in human history."


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