My fellow Americans,
This week, in the company of astronauts, I was honored to sign the NASA Transition Authorization Act right into law. With this legislation, we renew our national commitment to NASA's mission of exploration and discovery. And we continue a tradition that is as old as mankind. We look to the heavens with wonder and curiosity.
More than two decades ago, one scientist followed his curiosity and dramatically changed our understanding of the universe. The year was 1995. Taxpayers were spending billions and billions of dollars on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The astronomer in charge had a novel idea. He wanted to use the expensive telescope in a totally unconventional way.
Instead of pointing Hubble's eye at nearby stars or distant formations, Robert Williams wanted to peer into the void. He aimed the massive telescope at one of the emptiest regions of the night sky. For ten days during Christmas of 1995, Hubble stared into the abyss--seeking whatever light it could glean from the darkness. And it was total darkness.
Fellow astronomers didn't know if he'd see much of anything. But Williams was rewarded--and the entire world was struck by the awesome images our satellite returned. In that tiny patch of sky, the Hubble Deep Field showed thousands of lights. Each brilliant spot represented not a single star but an entire galaxy.
The discovery was absolutely incredible. But the unforgettable image did not satisfy our deep hunger for knowledge. It increased evermore and even more and reminded us how much we do not know about space; frankly, how much we do not know about life.
With this week's NASA reauthorization, we continue progress on Hubble's successor, the James Webb Space Telescope. It is amazing. The Webb Telescope is set to launch next year. It will gaze back through time and space to the very first stars and the earliest galaxies in the universe. We can only imagine what incredible visions it will bring.
At a time when Washington is consumed with the daily debates of our Nation, I was proud that Congress came together overwhelmingly to reaffirm our Nation's commitment to expanding the frontiers of knowledge.
NASA's greatest discoveries teach us many, many things. One lesson is the need to view old questions with fresh eyes. To have the courage to look for answers in places we have never looked before. To think in new ways because we have new information. Most of all, new discoveries remind us that, in America, anything is possible if we have the courage and wisdom to learn.
In the span of one lifetime, our Nation went from black and white pictures of the first airplanes, to beautiful images of the oldest galaxies, captured by a camera in outer space.
I am confident that if Americans can achieve these things, there is no problem we cannot solve. There is no challenge we cannot meet. There is no aim that is too high.
Whatever it takes and however long it will be, we are a Nation of problem solvers--and the future belongs to us.
We are truly a great place to be. I love America.