NASA Administrator speaks in Oklahoma
Vol.5 Issue 7
NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine speaks in front of a Beechcraft KingAir.

Jim Bridenstine, the Administrator for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), is an Oklahoman and was in the state recently speaking at the Norman Chamber of Commerce’s annual Aviation breakfast. The former Oklahoma Congressman from Tulsa provided his early morning remarks while standing in a hangar at Max Westheimer airport in front of a Beechcraft KingAir.

He told the 100 member audience that this was the coolest backdrop he had ever spoken in front of! For more than 30 minutes, Administrator Bridenstine listed numerous discoveries and accomplishments by NASA and even took time to answer questions from the audience. He shared that some Members of Congress were concerned that the USA had ’fallen behind’ in the space race after China recently landed on the dark side of the moon. He assured them that the USA still leads and will continue to lead in space exploration, but he also noted that NASA relies upon our international partners to continue making strides in research, development, and exploration.

Some interesting facts shared during his remarks:

Did you know that NASA’s New Horizons space probe launched in 2006 has traveled to Pluto and continues its voyage transmitting data from deep space?

Did you know that the USA has landed eight times on Mars and has planned a 2020 landing that will bring a helicopter to the planet? Unlike our moon, complex organic compounds have been found to exist on the surface of Mars, and it has been discovered that liquid water exists below its surface. These discoveries are exciting and important because they increase the likelihood that life could exist or perhaps may subsist on the red planet.

Administrator Bridenstine enthusiastically shared that the USA seeks to return to the moon within five years, and "the first female and next male astronauts on the moon will be Americans!" The Artemis lunar exploration program, along with The Gateway lunar orbiter will focus on the ability to test sustainability projects in space and on the moon to the point that these discoveries and cosmic building blocks will factor into an eventual launch point, which will one day put a human on Mars.

Bridenstine discusses aeronautics with MMAC Director, Michelle Coppedge.

Director Michelle Coppedge and Deputy Director Kevin O’Connor attended the event representing the FAA Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, which may have prompted Bridenstine to acknowledge that "the first ’A’ in NASA stands for Aeronautics." He went on to share that the FAA and the state of Oklahoma have given the Choctaw Nation authority to test UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems – drones).

Bridenstine closed by describing the future of travel - explaining that autonomy will change transportation forever. The electrified propulsion of self-driving vehicles will be the next wave, along with connected travel (vehicles communicating with one another) and the next phase of ride sharing like Uber and Lyft. "NASA is interested in aeronautics, and the future will bring integrated, unmanned systems into the National Airspace and that’s going to happen right here in Oklahoma, because of the confidence that the FAA has in the Choctaw Nation," said Bridenstine. He continued, "NASA stands to benefit because we are investing in all these aeronautics technologies (to include autonomy and the integration of unmanned systems into the National Airspace System), and the inclusion of engine electrification, which is necessary to compete." The age of "The Jetsons" is fast approaching and MMAC, Oklahoma, and Oklahomans stand at the forefront.

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