Spokesmen from NASA and the White House both issued statements in response to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden recent comments that President Obama had told him that it was his “foremost” mission to make the Muslim world “feel good about their historic contribution to science…and math and engineering.”
The statements were issued amid criticism of Bolden, who did not list space exploration as any of the top issues the president asked him to pursue as head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
“The President has always said that he wants NASA to engage with the world’s best scientists and engineers as we work together to push the boundaries of exploration,” White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said in a statement. “Meeting that mandate requires NASA to partner with countries around the world like Russia and Japan, as well as collaboration with Israel and with many Muslim-majority countries. The space race began as a global competition, but, today, it is a global collaboration.”
According to NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs, Bolden only meant to convey that NASA sought to help expand the capabilities of other nations to aid in space research and exploration.
“NASA is focused on its core mission of exploration, from pushing the boundaries of known space to breakthrough innovations in science and technology here at home,”Jacobs said in a statement. “But while space exploration may have once been a global competition, it is now a global collaboration. Without question, that work includes collaboration with other nations who share our goals. It is in this vein that Administrator Bolden has engaged with his colleagues around the world, to bring the best minds and ideas together to expand our common knowledge and capabilities.”
*This article originally listed the NASA administrator as “Charles Bolton.” It has since been corrected.