In a hearing today with NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, I referenced the fact that we are not very popular around the world, and that one of the unquestioned and positive programs that we have is the space program. It’s universally well thought of around the world, and it gives us a great opportunity to cooperate and collaborate with other nations.

When the Jet Propulsion Lab in my district landed its rovers on Mars, there were nine billion hits in the first two months on the NASA web page. This is one great enterprise that captures the world’s imagination and really shows off what’s best about our country, so I was exploring with the NASA administrator how we can use the space program as an instrument of our public diplomacy.

It’s something he’s very well aware of and conscious of, and he thinks it’s a strength of the program. He talked about whether a collaboration was possible with China, for example, given the secrecy of its space program, and one of the things he mentioned was just what an international effort it already is -- of course with our space station, and many of our programs are very international in nature.

I expressed during the hearing how one of the things I learned about doing the Jet Propulsion Lab is when you go there for an event like the landing of the rover, and sit in the glassed-in amphitheater overlooking the sort of “ground control,