|(From left) Major general Charles Frank Bolden Jr. and Vietnamese cosmonaut, Lieutenant General Pham Tuan, present their portraits serving as astronauts to US Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink at their meeting within the guest's visit to Vietnam.
Bolden, who is also former US Space Shuttle Commander and administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), said: “It is my great pleasure to be back here in Hanoi. I visited once as NASA Administrator, and I’m thrilled to return again, as a US State Department Science Envoy for Space. I am here this week promoting space exploration and the commercialization of space, as well as international cooperation in science and technology.”
According to the US Embassy in Vietnam, after having met with Prof. Chau Van Minh, President of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST), the guest joined discussion with officials of Vietnam’s National Space Center (VNSC) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) on strategies and experience in managing and developing space programs, educating students and community members, and finding opportunities for collaboration with the US.
While at the VNSC, Bolden also gave inspirational talks about career opportunities in space science and technology with students and faculty from the University of Science and Technology of Hanoi, Hanoi University of Science and Technology, and Vietnam National University.
In a separate visit to Hoa Lac Hi Tech Park outside of Hanoi, he continued to promote career opportunities in space during his talks to high school students at VNSC’s new planetarium. While there, VNSC leaders gave him a tour of their observatory and the building next to the planetarium that will eventually house their space museum.
At the American Center Hanoi, he talked about space exploration to university students and young professionals who also had the opportunity to experience space through virtual reality.
Bolden’s visit to Vietnam occurs during a yearlong commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing. US Astronaut and Apollo 11 Commander, Neil Armstrong, became the first man to step on the Moon on July 21, 1969.
The guest highlighted this achievement during his keynote address at the US Embassy’s Independence Day celebration, challenging the audience to continue that tradition of exploration and risk-taking but within the peaceful context of cooperation.
“We never sought ownership or conquest of space in our race to the moon. Nor do we seek it now. Instead, we seek strong, committed partners such as Vietnam whose space program, like ours, reflects the ambitions of a nation and a willingness to accept the risks of exploration that we Americans so admire,” he stated.
As major general Bolden has been traveling the world on behalf of the US Department of State to promote bilateral science and technology partnerships in space exploration with a special emphasis on commercial space opportunities.
General Bolden served as the 12th Administrator of NASA, where he oversaw the safe transition from 30 years of Space Shuttle missions to a new era of exploration focused on full utilization of the International Space Station and technology development.