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Former NASA Head explores space diplomacy on 'Talking Foreign Affairs'
The two discuss how it was used as a tool to improve US-Russia ties. Mr. Charles Bolden expresses his views on collaborating on an international space program and some fascinating accounts of space travel. He remarks, "Having the opportunity of viewing the planet from the perspective of base, where you saw the absence of borders and boundaries – that's only what we choose to define us here on the planet. We always talk about borders, walls, and ways to divide people."
He further adds that the perspective from space arrests the myth that the countries are dramatically different. Mr. Bolden describes NASA as one of America's major soft power tools. Space programs, he suggests, bring about a unique collaboration between astronauts from diverse ethnic backgrounds and nationalities. There is a history, including in his own experience, where NASA has collaborated with astronauts from countries that the United States may have a militarily hostile relationship with. The astronauts, too, try to look at these programs of collaboration in isolation with the military conflict, because at the end of the day, it is but a great achievement for science and humanity.
The host, Adil Cader, progresses the discussion towards the subject of planetary defence and peaceful cooperation. To this end, Mr. Bolden responds that it is critically important to continue working towards the environmental threat and the challenges that it poses for humanity. The former NASA administrator clarifies that global warming is more of a threat to humanity than it is to the planet, adding that "the planet will be okay, it's us human beings that won't make it."
"The perspective from space arrests the myth that countries are dramatically different."
Charlie Bolden was the 12th Administrator of NASA and became the first African American appointed to hold the role. Prior to this, he served 34 years in the Marine Corps. He also worked in NASA's Astronaut Office, during which he travelled into orbit four times and logged over 680 hours in space
'Talking Foreign Affairs' seeks to educate young people on key international issues and analyse key themes of foreign policy and current global affairs. Their offerings include hosting panels, addressing conferences, carrying out research and publishing.
Adil Cader specialises in Australian Foreign Policy and Global Diplomacy. He is a Pacific Forum Young Leader is a Board Member of the Australia-Pacific Youth Dialogue and actively involved with diplomacy education.