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Obama, officials cheer Curiosity's touchdown on Mars

August 06, 2012|By Amina Khan
  • In this photo released by NASA, White House Science and Technology Advisor John Holdren, second from left, stops by the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Mission Support Area to meet the landing team and to say "Go Curiosity."
In this photo released by NASA, White House Science and Technology Advisor… (Bill Ingalls / NASA )

Some of the celebration surrounding the Mars Science Laboratory's successful landing Sunday night on the Red Planet had a political tone.

"Even the longest of odds are no match for America's unique blend of technical acumen and gutsy determination," said Charles Holdren, President Obama's top science advisor.

Holdren hadn't sounded quite so bold just hours before, according to his friend and NASA administrator Charles Bolden. Holdren, Bolden said, had said he thought he was going to throw up.

PHOTOS: JPL's faces of joy

Obama chimed in as well about the high-tech rover, nicknamed Curiosity.

The night's successful landing "parallels our major steps forward toward a vision for a new partnership with American companies to send American astronauts into space on American spacecraft," according to a statement from the president, posted on the NASA website.

"Tonight’s success reminds us that our preeminence -- not just in space, but here on Earth -- depends on continuing to invest wisely in the innovation, technology, and basic research that has always made our economy the envy of the world,” the statement said.

The touchdown of the over-budget $2.5-billion Mars rover mission comes as tax dollars for planetary exploration shrink and as companies such as SpaceX make their mark in space transport. Obama recently cut the Mars exploration budget for the 2013 fiscal year from $587 million to $360 million, as Eryn Brown reported.

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