Celebrating International Cooperation between ESA and NASA!

Yesterday evening, I was attending, with most of the Google Lunar X PRIZE staff, a reception at the French Ambassador's Residence celebrating "25 years of European human space flight with NASA" co-organized by CNES, DLR and ESA.
It was a great opportunity to hear the views on human spaceflight and international cooperation from several key players, such as NASA Administrator or ESA astronauts.
After a rapid introduction speech by the Ambassador of France to the United-States Pierre Vimont and the German Ambassador to the United-States Dr. Klaus Scharioth, Michael Griffin gave a brief but very inspiring talk on the importance of human spaceflight and exploration, and I personally think he made a huge point claiming that human exploration of space just for the sake of it is a self-contained worthwhile goal:

It is time for the proponents of human spaceflight to stop apologizing for advocating human spaceflight instead of pure science. To expand the reach and capabilities of human life is an equally noble goal.
Michael Griffin, NASA Administrator

It was also great to hear German ESA Astronaut Ulf Merbold talking about his view on space exploration. I just couldn't help but noticing that the views of all the people we were listening to were clearly converging toward what has been acknowledged by the Global Exploration Strategy (as it has been described in more details this previous blog post):

We and the next generation are challenged to improve on what our ancestors - the great explorers like Columbus, De Gama and Amundsen - did with their more primitive tools. I believe that means exploring the Moon and Mars.
Ulf Merbold, ESA Astronaut

While I had the chance to meet Léopold Eyharts several times, it is always a privileged moment to talk with a French astronaut for me! And to be quite honest (and no biased at all!), I think he made one of funniest though best answer ever to the so-frequently-asked question of what is the most amazing thing in space:

A few moments ago, someone asked me, what did I think was the most amazing thing in space? And I must say that the answer appeared obviously to me: the most amazing thing in space is that everything is working!
Leopold Eyharts, ESA Astronaut

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