When she was younger, Hillary Clinton dreamt of being an astronaut.
That's what the 2016 Democratic front-runner said during a New Hampshire town hall event on Thursday when asked if she supports space exploration and investment in NASA.
"When I was a little girl—I guess I was a teenager by then—I was, you know, like, 14, I think, and the space program was getting started, and I wanted to be an astronaut," Clinton said. "I wrote to NASA and I said, 'What do I have to do to be prepared to be an astronaut?' And they wrote back and said, 'Thank you very much but we're not taking girls.' "
Clinton added that she doesn't lose sleep over the rejection, noting "that thankfully changed with Sally Ride and a lot of the other great women astronauts." But the former secretary of State made clear that she wholeheartedly supports NASA's planetary exploration.
NASA made history this week when its New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto and started transmitting high-quality images of the dwarf planet back to Earth, marking the first time that we have ever seen the mysterious mass of rock and ice at the outskirts of our solar system up close.
Speaking in Dover, New Hampshire, Clinton praised NASA and voiced support for planetary discovery while making a case for the benefits of government-funded scientific research and innovation.
"I would like to see us continue to explore space," she said. "There's just a lot for us to keep learning. I think it's a good investment. So on my list of things that I want our country to invest in—in terms of research and innovation and science, basic science, exploring space, exploring our oceans, exploring our genome—we're at the brink of all kinds of new information. Let's not back off now.
"I don't have an objection to partnering with commercial enterprises," Clinton added. "But I just think they are more in the applied-science arena, not in the discovery and research arena that I think only the government can support."