"A National Space and Aeronautics Strategy"
Remarks by Dr. John H. Gibbons,
Assistant to the President for Science and Technology
Delivered to SPACETALK '93
I am very pleased to be here today, and I welcome this opportunity to discussthe Clinton Administration's technology policies and strategy for space andaeronautics with such a distinguished group. Today I would like to talk briefly about the Clinton Administration's overall technology policies andinitiatives, and then focus specifically on the role of our aeronautics andspace programs.
Upon taking office, one of President Clinton's first actions was to formulatea major new technology initiative as part of his plan to strengthen ourcountry's economy. This initiative, Technology for America's EconomicGrowth, was announced in San Jose, California -- Silicon Valley -- and Iwas pleased to join the President and the Vice President in California for thatevent.
Why did the President put such an immediate and dramatic emphasis ontechnology policy in his administration?
Technology drives economic growth. Advances in tec hnology created two-thirdsof the productivity growth in the United States over the past 60 years. Theknowledge-based, growth industries of the future depend on continuousgeneration of new technological innovations and rapid transformation of thoseinn ovations into marketable products.
The technology strategy outlined by President Clinton and Vice President Goreoffers a comprehensive blueprint to focus American technology on 3 centralgoals:
-- Long-term economic growth that creates jo bs and protects the environment;
-- Making government more efficient and more responsive; and
-- World leadership in basic science, mathematics, and engineering.
With this initiative, we take a critical step toward ensuring that the federalinvestment in science and technology becomes a key instrument for promotingU.S. economic growth and for satisfying other national goals.
An important question to ask is: How do our aeronautics and spaceprograms fit into this tech nology strategy?
I will start with my own role. The President has directed me to take the leadrole for the Administration in terms of coordinating space policy. I plan tohandle this responsibility through a new council, the National Science a ndTechnology Council, that will absorb the functions of the Federal CoordinatingCouncil for Science, Engineering, and Technology, the National Space Council,and the National Critical Materials Council. NSTC will be chaired by thePresident, and the Vi ce President in his absence, and I will manage thecouncil's day-to-day affairs. This council was recommended in the report fromthe National Performance Review, and I believe there is wide support for itwithin the White House.
We are establishing a process to ensure that views from Executive Departmentsand Agencies, the Congress, and the private sector are considered during policydevelopment. Obviously, I will be working closely with the National SecurityAdviser on those occasions when national security concerns properly dominatethe policy development process.
In the months ahead, I will also be leading a series of interagency reviews ofspecific space programs,leading, in the new year, to a general reassesment ofUS space policy. The first of these reviews -- in aeronautics, weathersatellite convergence, and space transportation -- are already underway.
Through the aeronautics review the Administrations will develop its prioritiesfor investing in a new generation of aeronau tics technologies. In developingthese priorities we will be working closely with the aircraft manufacturers toensure that our priorities match those of industry. The second review, focusedon the convergence of DOD/NOAA weather systems, is a critical elemennt of theVice Presidents "Reinventing governm,ent initiateive. At present, NOAA and DODoperated seperate wheather systems. OSTP is working with NOAA and DOD to seehow we can safely and cost effectively eliminate this redundancty Finally, theUni ted States relies for its critical civil and national security spacemissions and space systems that cost too much and take to long to prepare. TheUnited States needs to chart a new course in space tranportation. This reviewwill be an important first step on this new course.
The President believes a strong and forward-looking space program is animportant investment in our national future. The Administration's policy seeksto expand on traditional American strengths in that arena, and to prop el usinto a new century by expanding partnerships, playing to our strengths, andinvesting in our people.
The President submiited a budget for NASA for 1994 that demonstrated theAdministration's strong commitment to the civil aeronautics and sp ace program.The President asked Congress to fund NASA at a level that allows an increase inscience, space technology, and aeronautics. This is an extraordinary vote ofconfidence in a budget that is focused on deficit-cutting.
This investment d oes not signal a "business as usual" approach to runningthis Nation's space program. The resources dedicated to the civilian spaceprogram must be focused on issues critical to the nation. I believe there arefive principal ways this country's investm ent in civil space exploration andtechnology development can and should contribute to the long term security andwell-being of this nation.
First, the aeronautics and space program will create new knowledge andenhance our understanding of the environment here on earth and of our place inthe universe. Space systems and advanced high altitude aircraft provideindispensable tools for understanding how human actions influence the complexworkings of our planet. Similarly, space science and robotic planetaryexploration can provide us with otherwise unobtainable knowledge and insightsregarding our home planet and the universe in which we live. Insights gainedfrom these technologies can enrich our lives and provide an essential type ofwe alth for this Nation.
This leads me to my second point: aeronautics and space investments mustmake important contributions to the U.S. economy. I refer not just toserendipitous "spin-offs," but to prudent, industry-led investments, such asthe government/industry cooperation in aeronautics and in satellitecommunications that helped to achieve and sustain U.S. leadership in thesecritical areas.
Although the economic health of this nation is the uppermost consideration forthe A dministration, it is not the only guiding principle in our aeronautics andspace activities. Our third principle holds that research in aeronauticsand space can help build good international relations. _
We are acutely aware that intern ational cooperation in space activities canhelp the international community move beyond the Cold War. Working with ourtraditional partners in Europe, Japan, and Canada, and soon with Russia andother parts of the emerging democratic world, we can forge additionalrelationships that contribute to global peace and prosperity. Internationalcooperation in space science, exploration, and commerce can provide animportant lesson on how nations, working together, define challenges and solveproblems that no one nation alone could accomplish.
Fourth, the space program is important because it generates and sustainsinterest in math and science education. The excitement generated by thespace program can be used to interest young people in mat h and scienceeducation. Enthusiasm for the space program yields scientists, engineers, andeducators who are the key to the future economic competitiveness of our nation,and increases the understanding of science and technology in the generalpopulatio n -- a critical need for the continued strength of our democracy.
Finally, human space flight is and will continue to be a significantelement of our domestic and international space program. Humans can make aunique contribution, as part of a balanced program of robotic and humanexploration, to our scientific and technical knowledge, as well as ourunderstanding of the benefits and limitations of humans living and working inspace.
I believe that these principles will guide devel opment and implementation ofthe aeronautics and space programs of this Administration.
The increased funding for aeronautics in the FY '94 budget will be used towork with industry to develop the technologies that will improve U.S.competitivene ss in civil aviation and enhance the safety and capacity of ourNational Aviation System. Today the aeronautics industry is one of the biggestin the country, employing nearly one million people, generating almost ahundred billion dollars in annual sale s, and tens of billions of dollars inexports. It is one of our last surviving crown jewels of high technology, andone of the few areas where we still enjoy a positive balance of trade.
That is why, under the Clinton Administration, NASA is ramp ing up itsinvestment in specific areas of aeronautical technology and in the facilitieslike wind tunnels that service the industry. This year, there is a substantialincrease in aeronautics funding within the FY '94 NASA budget request. Andwith Presi dent Clinton's support and his Technology Reinvestment Initiative, wewill increase that funding by more than 50% over the next five years. By thetime we reach the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first poweredfight, we intend to have a strong and growing aeronautical industry in thiscountry once again.
The technology we produce in aeronautics can not only help our competitiveposture with this critical industry, it can spin off into other areas of theeconomy as well. The advanced c omposite structures we are working on providean example.
For 20 years now, we have been steadily advancing the state of the art incomposite materials. The goal at first was just to learn how to fabricatethese new lightweight materials and take advantage of the fuel savings. Nowour goal is to make composite materials 25% cheaper than aluminum.
How? Well one technology involves actually weaving the structures, just likethe textile industry might weave a suit. Rather than laying up a sectionply-by-ply, we would weave the fibers and epoxies together in the desiredshape, and NASA is now working with five textile companies to pursue the idea.It's very promising, both for the aeronautics and the textile industries.
Another h igh priority in the Clinton Administration' space policy is NASA'sMission to Planet Earth. I think in many ways it may well be the mostimportant space science program we have ever done. And it could represent oneof NASA's greatest contributions to so ciety.
Humans have begun to change the face of the planet at an ever increasing rate,and that change is not always healthy. We must use our technology to study theecosystem, to understand the effects humans are having on the atmosphere andthe land and the water. The goal of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth program isto provide definitive scientific data so that policy makers 10 or 20 years fromnow can make the right decisions in safeguarding the health of our homeplanet.
With these c ore programs, and with a new determination to make our investmentsin air and space payoff of the American people, we have a bright and promisingfuture ahead.
Let me now turn my attention to a subject that has received a considerableamount of at tention recently -- the space station. Let me state from theoutset that I believe that the space station program -- properly structured --can make a number of very important contributions to this nation. Forexample:
o The economic strength o f the United States depends on our scientific andtechnological leadership. Space Station Alpha will provide unprecedentedopportunities to develop new wealth and new scientific breakthroughs for thisnation.
o The ability to routinely live and work in space and to pursue newinvestigations in advanced materials processing and manufacturing will beessential to our competitive position in the high-technology markets that willdefine the next century. Through the space station, we can also achi evebreakthroughs in medical research and other critical technologies that willcreate new jobs and improve the quality of life here on Earth.
o Commitment to Space Station Alpha means a commitment to tens of thousands ofgood, high-paying US jobs . These jobs will help to offset the effects of thedown-turn in defense spending and will maintain a strong technology baseessential to the economic and national security of this nation.
o Space Station Alpha is also a model of peaceful internat ional cooperation,offering a vision of a new world in which confrontation can be replaced bycooperation. Through the Space Station Alpha program, we will continue towork with our current partners in Europe, Canada, and Japan, while allowing thepossi bility for meaningful participation by Russian.
In March of this year, the President requested a review of the Space StationFreedom Program in order to examine whether the program's development,operations, and utilization costs could be signific antly reduced while stillachieving our scientific research goals and fulfilling our internationalcommitments. On June 17, following a review of NASA's study by an independentpanel of experts headed by Dr. Charles Vest, President of MIT, PresidentClin ton announced his support for a scaled-down, modular version of SpaceStation Freedom that meets these objectives -- the "Alpha Station" program asit has come to be known. The President also called for pursuing expandedinternational involvement in the space station with the possible participationof Russia.
As you know, the Alpha space station program is the result of an intensivereview and resdesign of the Space Station Freedom conducted over the last sixmonths. Alpha is a streamlined versi on of the original Space Station Freedom.It is designed to accommodate much of the Space Station Freedom hardware, willhave power, scientific laboratory space, and micrograpvity levels comparable orbetter than Space Station Freedom, and incorporates th e interests of ourinternational partners. It will cost significantly less than Space StationFreedom. At the direction of the White House, NASA is currently finalizing theAlpha Station baseline program design.
The Administration has requested a total of $2.1 billion in FY94 to be used tocontinue development of the reduced cost Alpha Station program as aninternational facility to be built and operated by the United States, Canada,Japan, and the European Space Agency. I believe strongly that this is animportant science and technology investment for the United States.
While the Alpha Station has been designed to be built and operated by theUnited States and its current international partners, it has been configured toaccommodate si gnificant Russian participation in the event that becomespossible. Since the President's commitment in June to explore increasedinternational participation in the space station, U.S. and Russian teams havebeen working together to develop possible opti ons for Russian involvement inthe Alpha Station program. While significant progress has been achieved, itwill be necessary for the U.S. and Russia to continue to work together and withour international partners to develop technical options for possibl e Russianparticipation. Until these planning exercises conclude in early November, itwill be impossible to finalize plans for Russian participation.
In the interim, the United States and Russia have signed an historic agreementto pursue spac