President Joe Biden told NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Perseverance team that Indian-Americans ‘are taking over the country.’
Biden made the comment Thursday afternoon during a video chat with the team, that landed the Perseverance rover on Mars last month.
‘It’s amazing. Indian-descent Americans are taking over the country – you, my vice president, my speechwriter,’ Biden told Swati Mohan, the Guidance and Controls Operations Lead of Mars 2020, during the call.
President Joe Biden gave a virtual thank you to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Mars 2020 Perseverance team for successfully landing the rover on Mars last month
‘We can land a rover on Mars, we can beat a pandemic,’ President Joe Biden told the team via video from the White House Thursday
A portion of a panorama made up of individual images taken by the Navigation Cameras aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover shows the Martian landscape
Members of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Mars 2020 Perseverance team are seen on-screen as President Joe Biden thanked them for giving the country ‘a dose of confidence’
Vice President Kamala Harris is half Indian-American, while Biden was likely referring to speechwriter Vinay Reddy, who worked for Biden when he was serving as vice president and is now the White House’s director of speechwriting.
Biden linked up with the Perseverance team to give them a virtual thank you.
‘We can land a rover on Mars, we can beat a pandemic,’ he told the team via video. ‘And with science, hope and vision, there’s not a damn thing we can’t do as a country.’
Biden talked about how the spectacular February 18 landing of Perseverance came amid a dark time for the country and ‘restored a dose of confidence’ in the American people.
He also said that message reverberated globally.
Biden said that a head of state told him, ‘America’s changed so much, they used to be so competent, to do great things and here they can’t even deal with the coronavirus, look how badly organized they are.’
‘America’s image in the world, it matter, it matters, because democracies have to demonstrate they can run as efficiently and more efficiently than autocracies,’ the president said.
He gushed over the team, telling them while it was ‘presumptuous’ to say so, he was ‘so proud.’
Biden watched the landing from the White House of the $2.2 billion rover when it plunked down on the red planet on February 18.
He sent out a tweet to the team offering his congratulations.
On Thursday, he threatened to visit the team once the pandemic is over, saying he would overstay his welcome like a ‘poor relative,’ a joke he also made on the campaign trail.
Perseverance traveled 239 million miles to Mars and touched down at the base of an 820 foot deep crater called Jezero.
Scientists believe Jezero was a former water-filled lake 3.5 billion years ago.
‘Touchdown confirmed! Perseverance safely on the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking signs of past life,’ flight controller Mohan announced when Perseverence landed.
Mohan was on the call with Biden Thursday.
Former President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence often touted NASA’s achievements and attended rocket launches during their tenure.
Trump also prominently backed the creation of Space Force.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last month that the Biden administration would continue to support Artemis, which aims to return astronauts to the Moon.
From there, the U.S. space program wants to get humans to Mars.
Psaki said that the U.S. government will work with industry and international partners to send men – and women – to the Moon.
‘To date, only 12 humans have walked on the Moon. That was a half century ago,’ she noted. ‘The Artemis program, a waypoint to Mars, provides exactly the opportunity to add numbers to that, of course.’
She also pointed out that lunar exploration has broad support from members of Congress.