In an interview last month on Al-Jazeera, NASA chief Charlie Bolden said that one of NASA's foremost tasks is to engage with Muslim nations. The White House disagreed, suggesting that the agency should perhaps focus on space exploration.
Joe Marino-Bill Cantrell /UPI/Newscom/File
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Bolden probably misspoke in recent remarks in which the NASA chief and former astronaut said one of his foremost tasks in leading NASA is to engage with Muslim nations about science.
"That was not his task, and that's not the task of NASA," Gibbs said during Monday's daily briefing.
NASA confirmed that Bolden misspoke.
"NASA's core mission remains one of space exploration, science and aeronautics," NASA spokesman Michael Cabbage told SPACE.com. "Administrator Bolden regrets that a statement he made during a recent interview mischaracterized that core mission. The success of NASA's efforts is increasingly enhanced by mutual cooperation with dozens of other countries around the world that are also committed to these efforts."