From here to Mars
September 24th, 2012
03:11 PM ET

From here to Mars

When you’re President of the United States your autograph can turn up anywhere.

Even on Mars.

Recently the camera attached to the Mars rover Curiosity, usually tasked with taking photos of dirt and rocks, sent back a shot of President Obama’s signature. The signature was at the top of an anodized aluminum plaque bolted to the most recent Mars rover Curiosity. Other signatures also on the plaque, Vice President Joe Biden and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

Similar plaques with signatures of U.S. officials were attached to the lander platforms for NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers.

Topics: NASA • President Obama
Obama calls Mars Rover team and asks about life on the Red Planet
This image, released by NASA on August 9th, shows part of Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars.
August 13th, 2012
12:41 PM ET

Obama calls Mars Rover team and asks about life on the Red Planet

WHITE HOUSE (CNN) - President Obama called the members of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover team on Monday to congratulate them on the rover’s recent landing on Mars but he also asked for a heads up if they find any signs of life.

“If in fact, you do make contact with Martians please let me know right away,” the president joked. “Because I've got a lot of other things on my plate but I suspect that that will go to the top of the list – even if they're just microbes, it will be pretty exciting.”

Mr. Obama spoke to seven team members in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California where the rover’s mission control is located. Curiosity landed on the surface of Mars last week and will spend the next two years investigating whether or not there is, or has been, life on the planet.

The president called their accomplishments ‘incredibly impressive’ and ‘mind-boggling’.

“What you've accomplished embodies the American spirit and your passion and your commitment is making a difference and your hard work is now paying dividends,” Obama said. “Because our expectation is that Curiosity is going to be telling us things that we did not know before and laying the groundwork for an even more audacious undertaking in the future and that's a human mission to the Red Planet.”

He also said the group’s mission will continue to inspire children across the country.

“They're telling their moms and dads they want to be part of a Mars mission, maybe even the first person to walk on Mars and that kind of inspiration is the byproduct of work of the sort that you guys have done,” he added.

The president made the phone call while aboard Air Force One en route to Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, where he will begin his three-day campaign bus tour through the neighboring state of Iowa.

Topics: NASA • President Obama
Shuttle Discovery says goodbye to the White House
April 17th, 2012
01:02 PM ET

Shuttle Discovery says goodbye to the White House

The space shuttle Discovery made three passes by the White House and the National Mall on its farewell flight to the Smithsonian's Air and Space Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport. Members of the White House Press Corps gathered on the north side of the White House to see the shuttle over the West Wing. No word yet on whether President Obama caught a glimpse of the shuttle.

NASA's shuttle program ended under the Obama administration after funding was cut by $1.5 billion dollars. Obama has said the closing of the program "propels us into the next era of our never-ending adventure to push the very frontiers of exploration and discovery in space."

Topics: NASA • The Visuals • White House
Scrubbed launch doesn't deter Obama visit
April 29th, 2011
03:26 PM ET

Scrubbed launch doesn't deter Obama visit

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida (CNN) – As many as 700,000 people, including the first family, were hoping to watch space shuttle Endeavour lift off at 3:47 p.m. for its final space flight.  Any excitement was mixed with disappointment when news spread that the launch had been postponed.

President Obama was wrapping up his visit in Alabama, surveying tornado damage, when NASA tweeted that the launch was scrubbed “because of an issue with Auxiliary Power Unit 1 heaters.”

It was not until Obama got on Air Force One that the press found out the president and his family would still visit Kennedy Space Center despite the scrubbed launch. FULL POST

Topics: NASA • The Family • The News
The Endeavour’s presidential send-off
April 29th, 2011
11:28 AM ET

The Endeavour’s presidential send-off

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida (CNN) – With the curtain closing on America’s space shuttle program, President Obama will bring his wife and two daughters to witness the 25th and final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, which appears to be a “go” for it’s scheduled 3:47pm launch.

Before takeoff, the family will tour the Orbiter Processing Facility, where the space shuttle Atlantis is being prepared for its final launch in June.

Obama will become only the second president to attend a shuttle launch. President Bill Clinton watched Discovery takeoff in October 1998.

The shuttle commander, Mark Kelly, is also the husband of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in January. The congresswoman is expected to watch the launch with other family members of the Endeavour crew. The first family is expected join NASA Director Charles Bolden, Jr. in the Launch Control Center. FULL POST

Topics: NASA • The Family • The News
Obamas will attend space shuttle launch
April 20th, 2011
04:27 PM ET

Obamas will attend space shuttle launch

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama family plans to attend the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour later this month.

According to a senior administration official, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia and Sasha will watch the launch in person on Friday, April 29th at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Endeavour, NASA's next-to-last shuttle launch, will be commanded by Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who is recovering from a gunshot wound to the head  from the Jan. 8th shootings in Tucson, Arizona.  Doctors expect Giffords to make the trip from her Houston hospital room to see her husband's launch.

Kelly will lead a crew of six to deliver physics instruments to the International Space Station. He resumed training with the team in February after being by his wife's side at an Arizona hospital. The crew will arrive in Florida next Tuesday to begin final preparations for the mission.

After the shuttle launch, President Obama will give a commencement speech at Miami Dade College.

Topics: NASA • The Family
March 3rd, 2011
08:27 PM ET

Obama's long-distance phone call

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama made a really long-distance phone call on Wednesday evening when he talked to astronauts aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

Mr. Obama congratulated the twelve crew members of the Discovery and International Space Station. “We are always inspired by the images of you at work as you put some of the final pieces to make the ISS fully operational," Obama said. "You are setting such a great example with your dedication, your courage, your commitment to exploration.”   FULL POST

Topics: NASA • President Obama • The News