Remarks by Vice President Pence at the 8th Meeting of the National Space Council | Cape Canaveral, FL
December 9, 2020
Apollo/Saturn V Center at Kennedy Space Center
Cape Canaveral, Florida
1:14 P.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, good afternoon, and thank you all for joining us and all of you that are joining us from afar.
To the members of the President's Cabinet on the National Space Council, to leaders across our administration, to members of the National Space Council's User Advisory Group, and to all those present: Welcome to the Eighth Meeting of the National Space Council β men and women who have revived American leadership in space. (Applause.)
It's a particular pleasure to be back here in Florida on the Space Coast, and also to be here at the world's premier gateway to space. Join me in thanking the Kennedy Space Center and Director Bob Cabana for their tremendous hospitality and leadership for space. (Applause.)
So it's wonderful to be here at this Apollo Center, Bob. And it's an incredible place. People have come from around the country and around the world to be inspired by the past and now the present and the future of American leadership in space. And we're truly grateful to the Kennedy Space Center for all that you've done to continue to advance American leadership.
Allow me to also bring greetings from a champion of American space exploration, someone who has revived Americans' leadership in human space exploration in just four short years. I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
Today, at this Eighth Meeting of the National Space Council, we will have updates from all of our council's members about the progress that we have made both in civilian, economic, and military advances in space.
But before I start, let me at least acknowledge the passing of an extraordinary American whose life and contributions to American aviation have undoubtedly led to inspire the advances that we've made in the vast expanse of space. This past Monday, America lost one of our greatest heroes β one of the greatest heroes not just in the history of the United States Air Force, but in the history of American aviation: General Chuck Yeager.
He was a man of a humble background β grew up in rural West Virginia. Enlisted in the military. He would go on to become one of the greatest aviators of all time. Chuck Yeager was a war hero. He shot down 13 Nazi aircraft and was himself shot down over France. Flew more than 150 military planes, a total of more than 10,000 hours, 30 years of active duty. And as history records, was the first man to break the sound barrier.
General Chuck Yeager has now left us β made his final ascent. But it was my great honor as we renamed two Air Force bases as Space Force bases just a short while ago to announce that, at the direction of President Donald Trump, we are initiating today efforts to rename an upcoming United States military base after the late and great General Chuck Yeager. (Applause.)
I think people here at Kennedy Space Center know, and all of us on the Space Council know, we literally would not be here today but for the achievements of General Yeager and all of those who have been inspired by his courage. And America will never fail β will never fail or never forget the life and contribution General Chuck Yeager.
So as we gather for the β this eighth installment of the National Space Council, allow me to express my appreciation to all of the members of the Space Council and to reflect for just a few moments, before we get started, on how much has changed over the last four years since the very first meeting of this council.
You know, when you look at β when you look at national security, the progress that we've made in civil and private space sectors, one thing is clear: In four short years, America is leading in space once again. It's true. (Applause.)
When we took office, the National Space Council had lain dormant for more than 25 years, but President Trump articulated an inspiring vision for renewed American leadership in space. In his inaugural address, the President said, and I quote, "We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space." And so we have set out to do.
In our first year in office, the President revived this council to reinvigorate and coordinate space activities all across the federal government. The President brought together some of the best minds in government and the private sector to strengthen America's space enterprise. And so many of you are here with us today, and we're truly grateful.
And whether it's providing for the common defense or growing our space economy across America, that's exactly what we've done throughout the past four years. In the very first days of our administration, the President signed multiple executive orders and presidential directives to reorient our space program to human space exploration. He took steps to unleash America's commercial space companies and to safeguard our national interests in the increasingly complex and competitive domain of space.
In our first year in office, the President signed Space Policy Directive-1 and gave NASA a clear goal: that we are going to go back to the Moon, and this time, we are going to stay. (Applause.)
We made clear in our first year that the Moon is not a final destination, but it's a base for developing and training for future deep-space missions. We're going back to the Moon, and then we're going to Mars and beyond. (Applause.)
As we gather here in this historic place, I can't help but think back 48 years ago, December 1972, to Apollo 17, the last Apollo mission to the Moon. It would be December 14th, 1972, that Apollo 17's commander, a Navy pilot named Gene Cernan β and a graduate of Purdue University in Indiana β (laughter) β he prepared to depart for Earth from the surface of the Moon. And he spoke words that have really echoed through our time as an ongoing admonition. He said, and I quote, "America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow." And he said, "As we leave the Moon, we leave as we came, and God willing, we shall return with peace and Hope for all mankind."
Gene Cernan was the last man to walk on the Moon, but he didn't want to stay the last. He spent the rest of his natural life advocating for America to go back to the Moon, and we are going to honor Gene Cernan's memory by putting the next man and the first woman on the Moon in just a few short years. (Applause.)
As you'll also hear updates today, the President also set NASA and the private sector β the entrepreneurial companies that have been involved in space exploration and development β in motion to ensure that we would return to the Moon. And then the next astronauts on the surface of the Moon and all the economic development in space will be driven by American ingenuity.
And we're going to ensure that Americans are going to be β we're going to be the very first β the very first not only to develop on the Moon and Mars, but also to continue to develop the economic potential of space exploration.
And even in this challenging year in the life of our nation, when Americans have sacrificed so much, we've continued to make steady progress toward that goal of renewed American leadership in space.
This spring, it was my great honor to attend the first crewed launch, along with the President of the United States, from right here at the Kennedy Space Center. It was the first time we sent American astronauts into space from Kennedy Space Center in nearly a decade. And then, not to wait a minute further, this last November, I returned again to see the second crewed full-scale launch and mission of American astronauts from American soil back into American space.
That's the result of real leadership and renewed American leadership in space. (Applause.)
And what's remarkable is those rockets were built by American private enterprise in this new partnership that we have forged and built upon in the United States over the last four years. When a businessman-turned-president decided to renew our commitment to space, he knew it was important to unleash the power of America's private sector, and so we have done. As you will, no doubt, hear today from the Secretary of Commerce, we went to work early on to cut and streamline out-of-date regulations that made the United States the number-one country in the world for space business, and we'll continue to accelerate investment and development in space.
This past April, the President signed an executive order to recognize and promote the rights of private companies to recover and use space resources. That order, we believe, will provide the kind of clarity and stability that our businesses need to thrive. It'll give our entrepreneurs the incentive to take our commercial space activity to all new heights. And just last week, NASA made its first commitments to buy lunar material from private companies and will continue to build on creating the kind of incentives that will generate investment and space development for generations to come.
And even as we make great progress in expanding America's commercial activity in space, we also recognize the challenges of digital threats to our space operations. And that's why the President established cybersecurity principles for all of our space systems, whether government or private. The President put in place the world's first comprehensive space traffic management policy as well, and he made it clear that we're going to use the resources, the capabilities, and the technologies of the private sector to make all space activity safer and more secure than ever before.
It's amazing, as you think about all these accomplishments in renewed human exploration in space, from here in the United States, the difference that all these distinguished members of the National Space Council have made in America's future in space. But at the time that we acknowledge the progress that we have made in expanding human space exploration and reviving American space enterprise, we also recognize that there are challenges and even threats in space, as well.
As I just said as we dedicated two Air Force bases now as the first two Space Force bases in America, space is a vacuum, but we aren't operating in a vacuum when it comes to our national security. The Space Race that began in the 1950s continues today. And we are in the lead, but we are not alone.
As you will hear today in the National Space Council, from the Director of National Intelligence and others, China and Russia are continuing to develop space weaponry. Russia demonstrated a space-based anti-satellite weapon earlier this year. China is developing a new manned space station, and its robotic spacecraft will return samples from the Moon in just a matter of weeks.
In fact, China is increasingly emerging as a serious competitor in space, just as they are in other areas of the global economy and to the strategic interest of the United States. As the world witnessed, China recently landed an unmanned craft on the Moon, and, for the first time, robotically raised the red flag of Communist China on that Magnificent Desolation.
All of that competition in the investment of other nations on Earth, and in security in space, is among the reasons why our Commander-in-Chief took the unprecedented step of establishing the first branch β new branch of our armed forces in some 70 years. The President of the United States, now almost a year ago, signed into law the creation of the United States Space Force. (Applause.)
Under President Trump, the highest priority of our administration is the safety and security of the American people. And where too often β too often, in the past, America has neglected growing security threats in space, this President called for extending our dominance on land and sea and air to the final frontier.
It would be June of 2018 when President Trump laid out his vision for American military power in space. He called for the creation of that new military service that we spoke of today at the dedication of those bases.
I believe it is a tribute to the President's leadership, as well as the leadership of all the military personnel that are gathered here today, that literally, in just a year and a half after our President first called for the establishment of a Space Force, after it had been talked about for half a century, he was able to sign it into law.
It's extraordinary to think of the contribution β the contribution that the United States Space Force will make to the security of our nation and the perpetuation of our freedom.
As Deputy Secretary Norquost [sic] β Norquist will reflect in a few minutes, the Space Force is growing stronger by the day. In fact, Secretary Barrett and I were, not long ago, in Colorado Springs when we saw the first 86 company-grade officers commissioned into the United States Space Force.
And we're pleased to be joined today by the Chief of Space Operations, the man who has been working around the clock to stand up the United States Space Force. Join me in thanking General Jay Raymond who's with us here today. General. (Applause.)
So we've made great progress. We evidence that today in the dedication of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and also Patrick Space Force Base, right here on the Space Coast in Florida. And I know the Lieutenant Governor of Florida is with us here today and is pleased to see that.
But just like 42 years ago, when Gene Cernan was on his way to the Moon, and just like when Chuck Yeager was breaking the sound barrier in the 1940s, the United States continues to face an era of competition. And as members of the National Space Council know, it's competition that America is winning today, and we're going to keep on winning in space for generations to come. (Applause.)
And that's one more reason today β while I'm pleased to announce that the President, as of today, has issued a new National Space Policy that we will articulate at this meeting of the National Space Council. The National Space Policy provides the President's direction to the executive branch on all space activities. It emphasizes that space is critical to our security and our way of life, and lays out the fundamental principles to put America first in space.
Dr. Scott Pace will go into more detail about the President's new National Space Policy in just a few moments, but it represents our ongoing commitment to β at the National Space Council and throughout this administration β to ensure American leadership in space.
But for now, let me just say that because of the hard work of all the men and women of the National Space Council, putting our President's vision into effect; because of the hard work of all of the dedicated men and women on our Space Council Advisory Group; and the support of the American people and leaders in the Congress, we've made great progress in the last four years.
But as you will hear again today, there is a renewed determination all across this nation and all across this government, and all across every level of government, to continue to build on the extraordinary progress that we've made. And today, we will hear about that progress, the ongoing challenges and opportunities that America faces.
So let me say once again: Welcome to this Eighth Meeting of the National Space Council. Let's get to work. (Applause.)
(The roundtable discussion begins.)
(The roundtable discussion concludes.)
ADMINISTRATOR BRIDENSTINE: Welcome to the Artemis Generation. A lot of you in this room, you've heard me talk about the Artemis Generation. I'm the first NASA administrator in history that wasn't alive when we had people living and working on another world. And, of course, it is our goal that I'm the last NASA administrator in history that wasn't alive when we have people living and working on another world. Our goal is to go the Moon sustainably, to learn how to live and work on another world so that ultimately we can take all of that knowledge on to Mars.
And the Vice President of the United States came to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, and what he said to us at that time was he directed us to make sure that we go back to the Moon, this time sustainably, and we go back to the Moon with the next man and the first woman. And that's what this program is all about.
And today we have this very special and unique milestone where it is time to announce who those people will be. And, Mr. Vice President, if you would come up to the β to the front here and share with the audience who our astronauts are going to be. This is the first cadre of our Artemis astronauts.
I want to be clear, there is going to be more. And, of course, there's going to be astronauts that are in low-Earth orbit that are going to go the Moon, and astronauts that go to the Moon that are going to be in low-Earth orbit.
But, Mr. Vice President, please do us the honor introducing who these folks are. And you'll see on the video their images when he announces them.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you, Jim. It's now my honor to announce the names of the Artemis astronauts who will take us back to the Moon and beyond.
Joe Acaba. (Applause.) Kayla Barron. (Applause.) Raja Chari. (Applause.) Matthew Dominick. (Applause.) Victor Glover. (Applause.) Woody Hoburg. (Applause.) Jonny Kim. (Applause.) Christina Koch. (Applause.) Kjell Lindgren. (Applause.) Nicole Mann. (Applause.) Anne McClain. (Applause.) Jessica Meir. (Applause.) Jasmin Moghbeli. (Applause.) Kate Rubins. (Applause.) Frank Rubio. (Applause.) Scott Tingle. (Applause.) Jessica Watkins. (Applause.) And Stephanie Wilson. (Applause.)
Now it's my special honor to welcome five members of the Artemis Generation who are here with us today at the Kennedy Space Center: Jessica Watkins. (Applause.) Matthew Dominick. (Applause.) Anne McClain. (Applause.) Joe Acaba. (Applause.) And Jessica Meir. (Applause.)
My fellow Americans, I give you the heroes of the future who will carry us back to the Moon and beyond: the Artemis Generation. (Applause.)
Well, thank you all for stepping forward and for the excellence that you've shown throughout this program. And congratulations to you and all of those that were just named that are part of the Artemis Generation. It really is amazing to think that the next man and the first woman on the Moon are among the names that we just read, and they may be standing in the room with us right now.
We started today reflecting on a great hero of the past. The Artemis Generation are the heroes of American space exploration in the future. Would you join me in showing our appreciation for their great heroism and their character one more time? (Applause.)
Well, thank you all. We're going to wrap up very quickly here, this Eighth Meeting of the National Space Council, with gratitude to these heroes who've stepped forward. And let me just say a personal note of gratitude to all of the dedicated men and women, and the staffs, who've stepped forward to serve the National Space Council over the last four years.
I think you could tell today, in just summary fashion, the extraordinary difference for our economy and for our security that the National Space Council, under the leadership of President Donald Trump, has made in renewing American leadership in space. And join me in thanking all the members of the National Space Council one more time, would you, please? (Applause.)
I also want to take the opportunity to thank members of the User Advisory Group. This is an extraordinary group of Americans that come from the very heart of the American space enterprise, and they brought their incredible professionalism and their incredible experience to bear on ensuring that we had the very best guidance to take the steps necessary to promote and expand America's space enterprise.
There are a few that are with us here today. And, first, I want to thank, from afar, Admiral Jim Ellis, who has led the User Advisory Group of the National Space Council with such great distinction. Join me in thanking Admiral Jim Ellis for his great work. (Applause.)
There are 28 members of the User Advisory Group that have given us great counsel all along the way. They've dedicated countless hours to giving us their very best advice. A few are actually with us here today for this Eighth Meeting of the National Space Council.
So, in addition to Admiral Ellis, allow me to thank Lieutenant Governor Jeanette NΓΊΓ±ez of the great state of Florida. Thank you for your contributions β (applause) β to the space program.
Eric Stallmer, who's with us here today, who is a great space entrepreneur and pioneer. Thank you so much, Eric. (Applause.)
Another great space entrepreneur who has been leading the way and has become a great, great champion of American leadership in space: Fatih Ozmen and his wonderful wife. Thank you for your great leadership. (Applause.)
And to a great entrepreneur who brought great business acumen to this and the great counsel of his wife Judy, who's assisted all along the way. Join me in thanking Indiana's own Fred Klipsch for his contributions to the National Space Council. (Applause.)
I come to this Eighth Meeting of the National Space Council just with a heart filled with gratitude. I'm humbled by the efforts of all of those that are gathered here, the military leadership from the Department of Defense β Secretary Barrett, General Raymond, General Hyten, and others β who have stepped forward to really transform the commitment of our nation to ensuring the security of the American people from space, but also the vitality of America's ideals in space for generations to come.
But I know I speak on behalf of the President as well when I just express my appreciation for all the members of this administration who caught the same vision. I love what Dr. Pace said a few moments ago. He said: There's nothing more terrifying than having a boss who cares about what you're doing, has an interest in what you're doing. And all I can say is: I can relate. (Laughter.)
I'll never forget the day, Jeanette; it was when we were campaigning for this job, four years ago, that I got a phone call. I was on my way to the Space Coast. And then our candidate called me up, and he said he wanted to revive something called the National Space Council, and he wondered if I'd be willing, as other vice presidents had done in the past, to be willing to chair it.
And so there have been many kind words expressed for your Vice President today, but let me β let me invite all of you to thank President Donald Trump, and all of those that have served alongside him, for renewing American leadership in space. (Applause.)
As I close this meeting, and in the company of these extraordinary Americans, let me just also say that I β I think the best days for American leadership in space are yet to come. And I know with the caliber of the men and women that have stepped forward in this program β Artemis β that we're going to make all new history. We're going to fill up places like this again and again.
And I just want to assure all of you that will be carrying America's aspiration and ideals into the great unknown that you go with the confidence of the American people. You will have the support of people all across this country as you inspire the world. And I'm very confident that you will go with the prayers of tens of millions of Americans who are grateful for your courage and your service, and the service of all of those that we announced today as part of the Artemis Generation.
And my prayer will be, in those β those ancient words, that you would be confident that as you rise on the wings of the dawn, settle on the far side of the sea β that as the Good Book says: Even if you go up to the heavens, my prayer is that you know that even there His hand will guide you, and His right hand will hold you fast.
So join me in thanking the Artemis Generation, the National Space Council, our User Advisory Group, and every American who has contributed to this cause these past four years. Because of all of you, America is leading in space once again, and we will be leading for generations to come.
Thank you very much. God bless you all. (Applause.)
END 3:07 P.M. EST
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