Dr. John H. Gibbons
Assistant to thePresident for Science and Technology
National Space Club Congressional Reception
M ay 19, 1993
Thank you. I am very pleased to be able to join the National Space Clubtonight in honoring our astronauts and the Congressional leaders who have doneso much down to Earth work for our nation's space program.
In looking a round this wonderful museum, one can't help but reflect on theimportant and in many ways unique role that the aeronautics and space haveplayed in the history of our nation. The achievements that are representedhere have captured the imagination of the world. They represent a source ofenormous national pride, and rightly so.
To a great extent, all of the space-age achievements that are displayed herehad their genesis in decisions that were made a little over three decades ago.At that t ime, against the backdrop of a deepening Cold War, this country wascompeting for leadership in a rapidly changing world in which science andtechnology were seen to hold the key to our nation's security and well-being.We responded by committing to an am bitious space program, whose fruits are manyand varied.
Today, I believe that we are faced with a remarkably similar situation. Theend of the Cold War has left us with as many challenges as did its onset. Ourcountry is striving to define its new role in a rapidly changing world, withthe institutions that sustained us through the past few decades undergoingwrenching transformations. And while military confrontation may have given wayto economic competition, our science, space, and technolo gy investments remainkey to the challenges that face us -- challenges such as rebuilding oureconomic strength, improving our quality of life, protecting ourenvironmental assets - from local to global, and keeping the world a safe placeto live.
This is the imperative behind the new technology strategy outlined byPresident Clinton, which is designed to reshape our nation's science andtechnology programs, including the space program, to more squarely address thenew challenges of a changin g world.
I believe that our civil aeronautics and space program is a critical part ofthat strategy -- a view that is shared by President Clinton and Vice PresidentGore. The best evidence of this is in the President's 1994 budget request,which includes nearly a billion dollar increase over the FY93 NASA budget.This is an extraordinary vote of confidence in a budget that is focused ondeficit-cutting.
But this investment does not signal a "business as usual" approach to runningthis N ation's space program. The resources dedicated to the civilian spaceprogram must be more efficiently and effectively focused on issues critical tothe nation. I believe there are five principal ways this country's investmentin civil space exploratio n and technology development can and should contributeto the long term security and well-being of this nation:
First, aeronautics and space investments must make importantcontributions to the U.S. economy.
Second, the a eronautics and space program should create new knowledgeand enhance our understanding of the earth and of our place in the universe.
Third, our civil space activities should contribute to increasedinternational cooperation and understand ing.
Fourth, our aeronautics and space program must help ensure that ournation is preeminent in math, science, and engineering, and help foster thestrength of our educational efforts in these areas.
Fifth, hu man space flight is and will continue to be a significantelement of our domestic and international space program.
With these guiding principles in mind, I would like to turn briefly to asubject that has received considerable attention recent ly -- the space stationprogram.
First, I would like to acknowledge the leadership and efforts of those of youin this room and your colleagues who over the years have worked so hard andcontributed so much to defining, supporting, and enabling t his next step in aspace infrastructure.
Second, let me say for the record: I firmly believe that the space stationprogram -- properly structured -- can make a number of very importantcontributions to this country. These include:
o Supporting significant long-duration low gravity research in materials andlife sciences;
o Developing the technology and the engineering skills necessary to build andoperate advanced human, autonomous, and teleoperated space systems;
o Encouraging international cooperation in science and technology;
o Providing the capability to conduct experiments on new, commercially relevantproducts and processes;
o Developing significant new knowledge regarding the feasibility an ddesirability of conducting further scientific, commercial, and explorationactivities in space.
Unfortunately, a sober assessment of the true cost of Space Station Freedomleads one to the inescapable conclusion that the program would have likelyex ceeded the available NASA resources. I believe that funding Space StationFreedom as proposed would have made it impossible for us to create within NASAa widening funding wedge for critical programs such as aeronautics and otherscience and technology w ork relevant to the US civil economy or ourenvironmental challenges.
As you know, the President directed NASA to review options for redesigningthe space station program to significantly reduce its costs while trying topreserve the research obje ctives of the original station. In addition, thePresident wants to make every effort to satisfy our commitments to ourinternational partners.
I believe that this redesign strategy was our only choice, given the weightyimperatives facing our country.
I know this process has been - and will be - difficult for everyone. Todate, however, especially given the shortness of time think we have madeextraordinary progress. We are currently working with the Advisory Committeeled by Dr. Charles Vest, the President of MIT, to examine the work of NASA'sredesign team. I am pleased that our international partners have agreed towork with us on the redesign and they are making an invaluable contribution tothe process of reconsideration.
Within the next few weeks, I will be forwarding to the President the resultsof this redesign review, with various options for his consideration.Following his decision, the Administration will obviously be looking forward toworking closely wi th Congress to reach and implement a national decision onthis matter.
As we move past the space station redesign process, I am committed to workingwith Congress, NASA, and our industry partners to create a stronger, morefocused aeronautics and space program that will build upon and do justice tothe outstanding achievements represented here in this museum.
Martin, I hope you are ready to build that extension of the museum, because weare going to do our best to fill it up for you.