Monday, 19 September 2011

Remarks by Ambassador David H. Thorne at the Astronaut's Reception

 Date: Rome, September 19, 2011     Source: http://italy.usembassy.gov/

President of the Italian Space Agency, Enrico Saggese,

Accomplished students and esteemed guests.

I am pleased that we have with us today so many young space professionals and Masters degree students of space science, who I hope will be inspired to further the great Italian and European tradition in space.  Let me invoke NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who during his visit to Rome in June encouraged students to “study, strive for excellence, and dare to take risks to achieve your full potential and contribute to the future of Italy, and the world.” 

Sono lieto di avere qui con noi numerosi giovani professionisti che svolgono un internship presso l’Agenzia Spaziale Italiana e studenti del Master in Scienze Spaziali – spero proprio che si sentano ispirati a continuare la grande tradizione italiana ed europea nello spazio!  Vorrei usare le parole del Direttore della NASA Charles Bolden che, durante la sua visita a Roma lo scorso giugno, ha incoraggiato gli studenti a “studiare, perseguire l’eccellenza e correre anche dei rischi per sfruttare al massimo le vostre potenzialit√† e contribuire al futuro dell’Italia e del mondo”.

It is my honor to present to you tonight the crew members of the NASA Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-134 mission led by Commander Mark Kelly, and the Soyuz Expedition 26/27 crew they met in orbit on the International Space Station in May of this year.

These brave men and women inspired the world to again look to the stars and to expand the boundaries of human knowledge.

President John F. Kennedy told an audience in Texas in 1962 of man’s quest for knowledge of space, saying “We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people…We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills…”

U.S. space policy continues to be inspired by the same  spirit of discovery and discipline, which is highlighted by NASA’s recent announcement that we will pursue development of a Space Launch System intended to provide an entirely new national capability for human exploration of deep space.

But we need to recognize that we have not made this progress alone.  Instead, international partnership has been and is increasingly essential to the universal quest to understand the universe.



U.S. Ambassador Thorne with a group of students

In issuing the National Space Policy of the United States in June of 2010 and the National Security Space Strategy earlier this year, President Obama announced a U.S. goal of expanding international cooperation to further the peaceful use of space.

As Ambassador to Italy, let me say a few words about Italy’s distinguished national record of achievement in space, and the excellent cooperation between our two countries.

As you are certainly aware, two of the European members of these crews are Italian: Col. Roberto Vittori, who flew to the International Space Station as a member of the Space Shuttle Endeavour crew, where he joined Paolo Nespoli, who arrived there via the Soyuz mission.   In fact, our astronauts have flown together on the Shuttle since 1992.

Even beyond its brave astronauts, Italy has many reasons to be proud of its own history in space, and our history of collaboration stretches back to the 1960s, even before the creation of the Italian Space Agency in 1988, when, in December 1964, Italy became one of the first countries to launch its own satellite from the U.S.

NASA and the Italian Space Agency have cooperated on a wide range of exciting missions--studying Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, and the asteroids Ceres and Vesta.  They also worked together to develop modules for the International Space Station, and many Italian space companies that play an important role in these projects are represented here today.

Our scientists have collaborated on groundbreaking research such as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a particle physics experiment with a substantial contribution by the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics, delivered by the Shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station.  I know the astronauts will enjoy their visit to the Institute’s Gran Sasso laboratory tomorrow to witness other experiments on the cutting edge of science.

In conclusion, let me emphasize the obvious--that Italy’s record of achievement and cooperation in space, as a space-faring nation and as a member of the European Space Agency, has benefited both our peoples and advanced the peaceful use of space.

But our cooperation in space is not an isolated example, but forms part of a broader science and technology cooperation in a wide range of areas, from ground-breaking health research to climate change, biotechnology to nuclear physics.   The strong relations between our research and technology communities underpins the strong relations of friendship and partnership between our two peoples and countries.

Finally, I am pleased that we have present today Masters degree students of space science from all over Italy, who I hope will be inspired to further the great Italian tradition in space.  Let me invoke NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who during his visit to Rome in June encouraged some of these same students to “study, strive for excellence, and dare to take risks to achieve your full potential and contribute to the future of Italy, and the world.”

Now I have the high honor of presenting the brave men and women who embody that tradition of cooperation and bravery.

Please welcome our special guests!

We are pleased to have Captain (Navy-ret.) Mark Kelly, commander of the Shuttle Endeavour crew, here with us and I would like to ask him to introduce the other crew members and say a few words.  We are sorry Mark’s wife, U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who is another hero, could not be here  with us today, but we are heartened by her amazing recovery.  Over to you, Mark.

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