I had the pleasure to meet and interview Bob Jacobs, he is the NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Communications.
We met in front of NASA Headquarters in Washington DC, which caught my attention. Bob apologized for not speaking any of my languages (Bob is amazing). From there we went to a restaurant called Clyde’s. On the way in a taxi, Bob told me about his experience working at NASA since 2000.
Q: In your opinion, what is NASA’s most important accomplishment during your career?
A: I joined NASA in July 2000 and I’m not sure I can pin my answer down to any one achievement. I was here when we lost seven astronauts and the space shuttle Columbia, and that is not an easy setback to overcome. Yet, the agency came together and safely returned the space shuttle to flight. That’s one major achievement. Another is the completion of the International Space Station and the safe retirement of the space shuttle program. Now that the ISS is complete, we’re focused on research that will help humanity on Earth and eventually extend our human exploration beyond the moon and on to Mars. Finally, successfully landing three rovers on the Red Planet during my career here has been thrilling. Do you realize Mars in inhabited entirely by robots? The United States is the only nation to achieve that. And I hope to be around when we put people on the Red Planet with them!
Q: How did NASA get in the position of paying the Russians to take American astronauts to the International Space Station?
A: First, it is important to realize that NASA makes no unilateral decisions when it comes to the operation of the International Space Station. There is an international partnership that makes the decisions on the safe operations of the ISS. So, NASA is not the only nation that buys seats on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. ESA and other international partners do the same. Also, people focus so much on launching people into orbit that they forget about the need for crew rescue. Budget cuts during the Bush administration forced NASA to abandon work on a Crew Rescue Vehicle, which meant we were reliant on the Russian Soyuz for rescue. Remember, it is not enough to get the astronauts up to the International Space Station. We have to be able to get them down. And we need to be able to do it in a hurry if there’s an emergency in orbit. The Soyuz, for the moment, is the only spacecraft that can sit in orbit for six months at a time. The space shuttle couldn’t do that. So, we need to think about crew transportation and the space station in terms of round trips and emergency escape. That said, NASA is very focused on returning the launch of our astronauts to American soil, which is why we have the commercial crew program. We already have commercial companies resupplying the ISS with cargo. Later this year, we’ll make a decision on which American companies will ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.
Bob told me that he liked to play sports, but had stopped practicing for a while because he was working too hard. I told Bob that I would return to Washington to meet him only just to know about if he started doing exercises again.#inspiration #bob#strongman☝️👏💪👍🌹
Okay okay going to the interview. 🇺🇸
Q: You have had a lot to do with NASA’s social media outreach. How has it changed since the beginning? What pleases you most about what NASA is doing with social media?
A: Social media for NASA has simply exploded. I pushed the agency into social media in November 2008. If you told me then we would have 7 million followers on both Twitter and Facebook, I would not have believed you. And those are just the primary NASA accounts. We have nearly 500 social media accounts across the agency. We have been fortunate that the public has responded so favorably to our activities. Most organizations would say social media is about them finding new way to deliver their message. For me, social media is really about the people we engage and the audiences we reach. When the federal government recently shut down, the people who love what we do came together on their own and executed a campaign called #ThingsNASAMightTweet, and they continued to post space-related material in our absence. That is an amazing reaction. Yes, we have a lot of talented people at NASA executing social media across many projects and programs, but it is the public and interested individuals who make us successful.
Q: People think first about sending humans into space when they think of NASA and ESA. How much investment is NASA making into exploring the Universe and studying Earth from space?
A: NASA spends more money exploring the universe than all the other space agencies in the world combined. Think about that for a moment. We spend about $5 billion a year in Science to study Earth, the planets, our sun, and other mission to help answer fundamental questions about our place in the universe. That is exciting work. Yes, people rightly think first about extending human exploration beyond Earth orbit. But we do not get anywhere with human space exploration without the robots and satellites that gather data to help pave the way. Even then, can you think of a more amazing achievement than the Hubble Space Telescope? What about the Mars Curiosity rover? A human presence in space is important but it alone cannot answer the questions the various science communities need answered. That is why we have a robust exploration program that builds on our record-breaking achievements in space.
Q: What are five important technologies NASA is creating or investing in?
A: We cannot get into deep space without innovations in technology. NASA is a catalyst for new breakthroughs in technology and to foster a new commercial space industry. Some of our innovative investments include new solar arrays and thrusters for solar electric propulsion, developing cleaner and “greener” rocket propellants, solar sails that reduce our need for rocket fuel in the first place. We do not have the tools today to successfully get humans to Mars, which is why we are investing in those technologies today. And I would invite everyone to see how our technology investments return dividends here on Earth. Take a look at http://technology.nasa.gov and see investments in space exploration are improving our lives here on the ground. You may remember the recent successful test off the Hawaii coast of NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator. If we are going to land on Mars, we are going to need technology to help slow us down as we enter the atmosphere. LDSD was an important technology demonstration mission that will be applied to future planetary exploration. We are also working to make space research more affordable. Our development of micro-satellites, called CubeSats, open a new way to explore space with smaller, inexpensive satellites to gather images, take measurements, etc.
Q: Do you believe in God? Yes or no, and explain your reasoning.
A: The issue of faith is an extremely personal one and it is an issue that probably is not appropriate to address as a NASA representative. That said, I was raised Catholic and attended a variety of public and parochial schools growing up. I received my undergraduate degree from a public university Tennessee and my master’s degree from a Catholic university in New Jersey.
I loved meeting Bob. In the end I said I wanted to go to space and if he could send me the next manned flight? I said I could fly the rocket, then he looked at me and said, “I think this could be dangerous.”✋😌 👉 Okay Mr.Bob I trust you😹🌹.
Even Mr. Bob likes to do the famous selfie. Thanks Bob, I learned a lot about the work and the important work that NASA does for the world, and also the technology that takes a long time to develop. I hope to see humanity be able to inhabit another planet, which would be amazing! Thanks for the presents; they have reached the intended people.✋
Hasta la vista baby 😎