NASA Administrator Bill Nelson encouraged 多多直播 graduates Saturday afternoon to reach for their 鈥渕oonshot.鈥

鈥淜nights, it鈥檚 no wonder that since the beginning, NASA has relied on 多多直播 to help in our moonshots,鈥 Nelson told engineering, computer science and optics graduates during his commencement address. 鈥淎nd Knights, it鈥檚 no wonder that it鈥檚 going to be a member of your generation who leaves their footprints on the red sands of Mars. So, to the Class of 鈥24: you have moonshots in your DNA.

鈥淢oonshots are big things. They鈥檙e bigger than any one of us. They鈥檙e bigger than all of us. Like Pegasus, you now have to reach for the skies鈥 and now you can carry thunder and lightning with you.

鈥淎nd you know how to aim for the moon鈥攂ecause this is America鈥檚 Space University. There鈥檚 no moonshot beyond your reach. So, decide what your moonshot will be 鈥 and then your launch, your liftoff, will happen right when you walk out those doors.鈥

多多直播 President Alexander N. Cartwright told Nelson, 鈥淵ou鈥檙e absolutely right. Our students are incredible, and they can all achieve any moonshot they set their minds to.鈥

多多直播 was founded in 1963 鈥 and offered its first classes in 1968 鈥 to help fuel talent to support the nearby space industry, and the university has partnered with NASA ever since, with 多多直播 faculty and students working on about 700 NASA projects.

Many 多多直播 space researchers and alumni are involved in the Artemis program. Planetary scientists Kerri Donaldson Hanna and Addie Dove are leading a $35 million NASA mission to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon in 2027 to explore never-before-visited volcanic domes and help inform future exploration. 多多直播 researchers also are studying rocket propulsion, protecting astronauts and their equipment from harmful space dust, and the health impacts of space travel on astronauts.

Twenty-nine percent of Kennedy Space Center employees are 多多直播 alumni. And 多多直播 repeatedly ranks as the No. 1 provider of graduates to the aerospace and defense industry, according to Aviation Week Network.

鈥淚n 1968, as Apollo 7 propelled Americans into space 鈥 and later, through Apollo 11, to land on the Moon 鈥 多多直播 began to educate and inspire a new generation of leaders: the Apollo generation,鈥 Nelson said. 鈥淎nd I ask you today to give your imagination to help us achieve another dream 鈥 now to return humanity to the moon and then to look onward to Mars and beyond.鈥

Nelson has served as NASA鈥檚 14th administrator for three years. A fifth-generation Floridian, he previously represented the state as a U.S. senator for 18 years and a congressman for 12 years. 多多直播 awarded Nelson the Exemplary Public Service Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016, recognizing his longtime service in government.

鈥淚 have the honor of serving a storied organization that makes history 鈥 that makes the impossible possible,鈥 Nelson told graduates, citing the James Webb Space Telescope a million miles away, always on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun. 鈥淎t NASA, we know a thing or two about moonshots. Because we’re going back (to the moon) after a half-century. This time, we鈥檙e going to learn to live, to experiment on the lunar surface 鈥 to invent, to create in order for us not just to go the moon, but to go further 鈥 to go to Mars and beyond.

鈥淲e’re expanding upon the vision of President John Kennedy that he laid forth in 1961 鈥 He challenged our country to unite behind a bold endeavor, once thought impossible. He made America believe in moonshots. And today, moonshots are not confined to the cosmos. Moonshots are imagined, developed and achieved here on Earth 鈥 by people like you.鈥

In 1986, Nelson trained and flew with the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia for mission STS-61C, the 24th flight of the Space Shuttle. While orbiting Earth 98 times over six days, Nelson conducted 12 medical experiments, including the first American stress test in space on a treadmill and a cancer research experiment sponsored by university researchers.

鈥淜ennedy didn鈥檛 have all the answers when he dared America to go to the moon, but he had the courage to dream,鈥 Nelson said. 鈥淪o, graduates, you don鈥檛 need all the answers on this special day. What you need today is to have the confidence and trust to decide what is your moonshot. Confidence that you will do what is hard and trust that what you can achieve is great. Confidence and trust that you will be a part of something larger than any one person. So, what’s your moonshot?鈥

多多直播 awarded about 9,800 degrees this weekend, including nearly 3,000 in STEM fields and about 1,400 in engineering and computer science.