ARAB, Ala. - NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine came to North Alabama to make some big announcements, but first, he stopped at Arab High school to meet and speak with students.
The race to Mars has a timeline, a budget and a schedule that no one knows that better than NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, "If you miss your launch window, you're going to have to wait a couple of years before you can re-engage, so schedule matters big time."
Bridenstine believes students like those at Arab high school who participate in robotics and precision machinery are learning those lessons right now.
Triston Cater is a student and he says he's learning a lot. "Trying to operate the CNC's in there, trying to operate the mills, making parts for the moon buggy and really just a big learning experience overall."
For many students at Arab, NASA is already part of who they are. Some of them have parents that work with the space program.
"The tie between this community and what happens with NASA at Marshall is important. And, of course, with that tradition and legacy, a lot of these young folks are already tuned in to what we are trying to achieve. They want to be a part of it and I am hoping we can inspire them to consider that path going forward," says Bridenstine.
Bridenstine didn't make the trip alone, he came with astronaut Ricky Arnold who's worked for NASA since 2007. Arnold says "I had the privilege of working on the International Space Station for 197 days which was a real privilege and just a great thrill and a great journey."
For him, inspiring students is part of his life's mission. "Coming and watching the next generation prepare for their lives is one of the great joys and privileges of this job."