FW: In-town pool report #1 -- Oval spray with astronauts

From: Byron Tau [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Friday, October 21, 2016 3:56 PM
To: Velz, Peter T. EOP/WHO ; Gabriel, Brian A. EOP/WHO
Subject: In-town pool report #1 -- Oval spray with astronauts

Pool has multiple second-hand reports that Bill Murray made an appearance in the White House briefing room this afternoon but we did not witness this. POTUS did entertain a question about Murray, see the bottom of this report.

Pool was ushered into the Oval Office at 3:25 pm.

President Obama was meeting with astronaut Scott Kelly, as well as his brother Mark Kelly -- also an astronaut. Also in the room: John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Charles Bolden, Administrator of NASA

Please check against transcript and apologies for any typos.

POTUS said it was nice "at the end of a long week to visit with a couple of friends, but also, I believe American heroes."

POTUS: "As some of you know, a while back, Scott completed what was the longest period of time that any U.S. astronaut has ever spent in space, almost a year. What made this so important was not just to break a record. It gave us an opportunity to learn how Scott, as a astronaut, is impacted by lengthy stays like that. And you've got somebody to compare him to, his twin brother Mark, also an astronaut."

"As a consequence, what we were able to learn is how the body adapts, what kinds of physiological impacts," adding that he heard from Scott Kelly that he was "pretty good" psychologically.

"All this allows us to start thinking about long-term manned space travel. As I announced recently, our goal, our next goal, not our ultimate goal is to get to Mars."

POTUS said Kelly "did all kinds of science experimenting up there that is over my head. And I won't even try to explain. But the data, the knowledge that we've accumulated from his incredible adventure is something that's going to serve us in good stead [??] as we continue to accelerate and advance our forays into space."

"When we learn about space, we're also learning about ourselves and ultimately we've learning about technologies that can make a difference in terms of our day-to-day lives."

Scott Kelly spoke briefly, saying: "Being in space for a whole year, you get this perspective of seeing the Earth through changing seasons and you know, different lighting conditions." He recounted how frequently he saw the pollution in China and India but one day he saw that the eastern part of China was perfectly clear.

"I could see all these cities. ... It was quite shocking, I didn't really understand it until the next day I heard that the Chinese government had turned off a bunch of coal producing power plants" for a national holiday, Kelly said.

Obama again: "It's a good reminder that we need to do everything we can to preserve this place we call home."

He also announces that the White House has established a kid's science advisory group and that'll meeting with that group this afternoon.

POTUS also says thank you to Mark Kelly and his wife, former Rep. Gabby Giffords. who now work on gun control issues "They have been doing incredible work around making sure that in addition to taking care of the planet and understanding our environment, that we're also thinking smartly about gun safety,"

POTUS also said that Scott Kelly's head "got a little larger... and we don't just mean ego" during his time in space. He did not elaborate but presumably heads get larger in space? It's apparently back to normal, POTUS says.

White House staff cut off the press corps's attempt to ask a policy question but POTUS did answer a question about his meeting with Bill Murray, who made a surprise appearance at the White House on Friday.

Asked if he met with Bill Murray, POTUS said: "Absolutely"

POTUS did not say what they talked about but added: "He was wearing a Cubs jacket which for a White Sox fan is a little troubling."

Pool was ushered out at 3:35 pm.


Byron Tau

Reporter, Wall Street Journal

c: xxx-xxx-xxxx

d: xxx-xxx-xxxx

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