US Vice President Kamala Harris told NASA astronauts today (Sept. 9) that she is dedicated to encouraging collaboration among her fellow "space nerds" both on Earth and in space. Harris, who also leads the National Space Council, talked briefly to the International Space Station (ISS) this morning on the necessity of preserving Earth and working together to achieve other space goals.
Tell us what you're learning on the space station that's helping us be wiser about how we take care of Earth, Harris said to Expedition 67 astronauts Jessica Watkins, Kjell Lindgren, and Bob Hinds. During a tour of NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Harris spoke from Mission Control.
According to Watkins, the astronauts are learning a lot aboard the ISS. She gave an example how to grow plants without soil and then utilize that knowledge to help with food security on Earth. Watkins also mentioned cell aging studies, which might help researchers think about how we can aid with immune cell aging on Earth.
The scheduled teleconference was cut short due to scheduling conflicts and satellite connections, but Harris will be on the space beat all day: she will chair her second National Space Council meeting at 2:20 p.m. The vice president's schedule calls for EDT (1820 GMT).
According to background information provided by the White House, at the meeting, Harris is expected to reaffirm NASA's ISS extension until 2030, provide more details on new commercial space rules, and announce new regional training pilot programs with space companies such as Blue Origin, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman.
The National Space Council, which helps define American space policy, has already established several goals for President Joe Biden's administration. Harris discussed addressing climate change with satellites and investigating the space debris issue during the first meeting, which took place last December. And she's started talking about the agency's Artemis program, which aims to put boots on the moon in the 2020s.
According to the White House, Harris will also present an Interagency Roadmap(opens in new tab) today centered on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in a drive to increase and diversify the nation's space workforce. In recent weeks, the vice president has been quite active in the space industry. She traveled to Florida's Space Coast for the Aug. 29 launch of NASA's Artemis 1 moon mission, which was canceled owing to a technical fault. (The next opportunity is not until September 23.)
While in Florida, Harris visited NASA's Kennedy Space Center to see Artemis hardware, and her plan for today includes a visit to JSC. According to NASA, her visit will focus on the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility, where astronauts and support staff alike train for missions.