May 20th, 2009
08:51 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama chats with Shuttle crew


The president spoke Wednesday with the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis after the astronauts repaired the Hubble Telescope during several spacewalks. (Photo Credit: NASA)

(CNN) - President Barack Obama beamed up a special message to the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on Wednesday, two days before the astronauts are scheduled to return to Earth.

"I wanted to tell you personally how proud I am," Obama said in a brief phone chat. "I think you're just providing a wonderful example of the kind of commitment to exploration that represents America."

Atlantis launched May 11 for NASA's fifth and final repair visit to the Hubble Space Telescope. It was released back into orbit Tuesday morning.

In space for 19 years, the Hubble can capture clear images that telescopes on Earth cannot, partly because it does not have to gaze through murky atmosphere.

Obama said it was amazing to watch the astronauts do their work and called the Hubble "an iconic symbol of the quest for knowledge."

"By allowing Hubble to continue on its journey, you've really allowed all of us to continue on our journey for growth and exploration."

The shuttle crew took the day off Wednesday but will prepare for its journey back to Earth on Thursday.

They will have a new boss in the near future - the president told the crew he would soon name a new NASA administrator.

"Just so we're sure, the new administrator is not any of us on the flight deck, is it?" joked Mission Commander Scott Altman.

The president refused to give any hints, but did ask if he could get a copy of pictures of Chicago taken from space.

"Did you guys see my house?" Obama asked. "I'm trying to figure out if my lawn is getting mowed."

Filed under: Extra • President Obama
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "Did you guys see my house?" Obama asked. "I'm trying to figure out if my lawn is getting mowed."

    C'mon now...if you can't admit that's even somewhat amusing, then you're just a pantwetter.

    May 20, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  2. Mike in NYC

    "...our journey for growth and exploration."

    Sounds like something a twelve year-old would say.

    May 20, 2009 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  3. m smith

    Very nice but I saw on Fox that the comment was the president was more concerned about his lawn. What a bunch of jerks. It is impressive to see a president that actually likes science and space exploration. What a wonderful concept. Best to all the astronauts. God speed and a safe trip home.

    May 20, 2009 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  4. skyhawkdriver

    How do use a teleprompter while talking on the phone??..I hope his plan has unlimited minutes cause I don't think his phone was included in the stimulus plan...and where was mr excitement joe biden??..won't the president even let poor joe talk on the phone??

    May 20, 2009 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  5. Alex in Wisconsin

    Hey Mr. President, I like what you are doing, but I believe you might have to temporarily put space exploration on the back burner until the economy improves. But feel free to encourage private businesses to get involved in taking people into space. Someday i hope to go up for a ride.

    May 20, 2009 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  6. ugogirl

    I think was consider of our President to call the shuttle crew. He is always checking on the American people, even beyond the stars and moon. Darn President Obama you bring tears to my eyes!

    May 20, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  7. corey

    This is good and exciting news !!
    I for one would love to see a bigger presence in space ! (Mars & Moon and a station in the middle ) a manned presence ...

    May 20, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  8. reality

    Can you say Mule with blinders on. Get in touch with the real america.

    May 20, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  9. WIlly Brown

    Is #44 blaming Bush on this space walk too?

    May 20, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  10. anthony

    I work for NASA, so I really hope he does name a boss for us soon so I can know If I will have a job after the shuttle progam ends.

    May 20, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  11. chris

    Great story!!! Obama never ceases to amaze me. He is so in tune with the times, he connects in so many ways. We are blessed to be Americans.

    May 20, 2009 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  12. Thought Criminal

    Decent joke Mr. President, decent joke.

    I hope he continues to fund our space program. Other countries are catching up and the only way for America to maintain its Cowboy spirit is continue pushing the envolpe and Boldly go where no one has gone before. = )

    May 20, 2009 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  13. Dale

    Alright! NASA and the shuttle crew, everyone from the astronauts to the ground support, from launch the land, you all did a great job; too bad the shuttles are being retired, they served our nation well. Now lets build a bigger and better one next time and forget this tiny space capsule stuff.

    May 20, 2009 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  14. steves soul muncher

    i love how our nations president has such a great sense of humor, and on top of that his getting stuff done. keep up the work Obama!

    May 20, 2009 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  15. adele

    LOL. Tha's funny.

    May 20, 2009 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  16. TCM

    I wonder if he used a NASA-approved teleprompter?

    May 20, 2009 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  17. Gerry M. Eugene, OR

    I hope that President Obama is able to keep the committment to space exploration that was made so long ago. Space is the Final Frontier and we need to keep moving out and going forward with exploration of space.

    May 20, 2009 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  18. Edward Davisson

    I would like to know if there is an email address that. I can write a
    letter to The President pertaining to an issue important to myself
    and my Loved ones. That if need be in the near future I may ask
    for President Obama,s help.

    May 20, 2009 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  19. Chikk On Lit

    I love him!

    May 21, 2009 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  20. peter shaw

    love the president.... he just peppers every conversation with a little taste of humor and sincerity ... he is a great example of a man.... a real man.... or as real as this white house has seen in a long long time....

    thank you sir!!

    May 21, 2009 12:44 am at 12:44 am |