Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator, and Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Chairman of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Executive Board, shared personal reflections, perspectives on international collaboration and a look at the challenges that lie ahead in space exploration in a 'Masters with Masters' event at NASA Headquarters.
'Masters with Masters' events bring together two experts to share insights, lessons learned, and best practices in a setting that promotes learning and discovery through dialogue. The series of web-based learning videos is a production of the NASA Academy of Program/Project & Engineering Leadership (APPEL). The conversations yield fresh insights, promote reflection and open sharing, and serve as a learning resource.
Bolden spoke about the importance of transparency, reciprocity, and mutual benefit in partnerships across sectors. "We are part of a collaboration of academia, industry, and international partners, and we cannot be successful unless we all work together," he said.
Wörner underlined the complementary capabilities and interests of the two agencies. "In the partnership between NASA and DLR, there is a lot we can give each other," he said, citing examples from current collaborations such as the International Space Station (ISS) and SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy.
Both leaders emphasised the importance of mentors early in their careers. Bolden encouraged young professionals to embrace a broad view of mentorship. “Anyone you meet can be a mentor,” he said.
Drawing from his own experience working in Japan in the 1980s, Wörner suggested that aspiring managers spend time abroad. "It opens up your mind," he said.
This episode of ’Masters with Masters’ was recorded on 8 December 2010 at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC. On the same day, NASA and DLR signed a framework agreement for joint activities in aeronautics, exploration and the peaceful uses of outer space. Bolden and Wörner also signed an agreement, making DLR a NASA Lunar Science Institute associate partner. The Institute brings together scientists from around the world to conduct collaborative research in lunar science.