THE PRESIDENT: Thanks for the warm welcome. I'm honored to be
with the men and women of NASA. I thank those of you who have come
in person. I welcome those who are listening by video. This agency,
and the dedicated professionals who serve it, have always reflected
the finest values of our country -- daring, discipline, ingenuity,
and unity in the pursuit of great goals.
America is proud of our space program. The risk takers
and visionaries of this agency have expanded human knowledge, have
revolutionized our understanding of the universe, and produced
technological advances that have benefited all of humanity.
Inspired by all that has come before, and guided by clear
objectives, today we set a new course for America's space program.
We will give NASA a new focus and vision for future exploration. We
will build new ships to carry man forward into the universe, to gain
a new foothold on the moon, and to prepare for new journeys to
worlds beyond our own.
I am comfortable in delegating these new goals to NASA, under the
leadership of Sean O'Keefe. He's doing an excellent job. (Applause.)
I appreciate Commander Mike Foale's introduction -- I'm sorry I
couldn't shake his hand. (Laughter.) Perhaps, Commissioner, you'll
bring him by -- Administrator, you'll bring him by the Oval Office
when he returns, so I can thank him in person.
I also know he is in space with his colleague, Alexander Kaleri,
who happens to be a Russian cosmonaut. I appreciate the joint
efforts of the Russians with our country to explore. I want to thank
the astronauts who are with us, the courageous spacial entrepreneurs
who set such a wonderful example for the young of our country.
And we've got some veterans with us today. I appreciate the
astronauts of yesterday who are with us, as well, who inspired the
astronauts of today to serve our country. I appreciate so very much
the members of Congress being here. Tom DeLay is here, leading a
House delegation. Senator Nelson is here from the Senate. I am
honored that you all have come. I appreciate you're interested in
the subject -- (laughter) -- it is a subject that's important to
this administration, it's a subject that's mighty important to the
country and to the world.
Two centuries ago, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left St.
Louis to explore the new lands acquired in the Louisiana Purchase.
They made that journey in the spirit of discovery, to learn the
potential of vast new territory, and to chart a way for others to
America has ventured forth into space for the same reasons. We
have undertaken space travel because the desire to explore and
understand is part of our character. And that quest has brought
tangible benefits that improve our lives in countless ways. The
exploration of space has led to advances in weather forecasting, in
communications, in computing, search and rescue technology,
robotics, and electronics. Our investment in space exploration
helped to create our satellite telecommunications network and the
Global Positioning System. Medical technologies that help prolong
life -- such as the imaging processing used in CAT scanners and MRI
machines -- trace their origins to technology engineered for the use
Our current programs and vehicles for exploring space
have brought us far and they have served us well. The Space Shuttle
has flown more than a hundred missions. It has been used to conduct
important research and to increase the sum of human knowledge.
Shuttle crews, and the scientists and engineers who support them,
have helped to build the International Space Station.
Telescopes -- including those in space -- have revealed more than
100 planets in the last decade alone. Probes have shown us stunning
images of the rings of Saturn and the outer planets of our solar
system. Robotic explorers have found evidence of water -- a key
ingredient for life -- on Mars and on the moons of Jupiter. At this
very hour, the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit is searching for
evidence of life beyond the Earth.
Yet for all these successes, much remains for us to explore and
to learn. In the past 30 years, no human being has set foot on
another world, or ventured farther upward into space than 386 miles
-- roughly the distance from Washington, D.C. to Boston,
Massachusetts. America has not developed a new vehicle to advance
human exploration in space in nearly a quarter century. It is time
for America to take the next steps.
Today I announce a new plan to explore space and extend a human
presence across our solar system. We will begin the effort quickly,
using existing programs and personnel. We'll make steady progress --
one mission, one voyage, one landing at a time.
Our first goal is to complete the International Space Station by
2010. We will finish what we have started, we will meet our
obligations to our 15 international partners on this project. We
will focus our future research aboard the station on the long-term
effects of space travel on human biology. The environment of space
is hostile to human beings. Radiation and weightlessness pose
dangers to human health, and we have much to learn about their
long-term effects before human crews can venture through the vast
voids of space for months at a time. Research on board the station
and here on Earth will help us better understand and overcome the
obstacles that limit exploration. Through these efforts we will
develop the skills and techniques necessary to sustain further space
To meet this goal, we will return the Space Shuttle to
flight as soon as possible, consistent with safety concerns and the
recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. The
Shuttle's chief purpose over the next several years will be to help
finish assembly of the International Space Station. In 2010, the
Space Shuttle -- after nearly 30 years of duty -- will be retired
Our second goal is to develop and test a new spacecraft, the Crew
Exploration Vehicle, by 2008, and to conduct the first manned
mission no later than 2014. The Crew Exploration Vehicle will be
capable of ferrying astronauts and scientists to the Space Station
after the shuttle is retired. But the main purpose of this
spacecraft will be to carry astronauts beyond our orbit to other
worlds. This will be the first spacecraft of its kind since the
Apollo Command Module.
Our third goal is to return to the moon by 2020, as the launching
point for missions beyond. Beginning no later than 2008, we will
send a series of robotic missions to the lunar surface to research
and prepare for future human exploration. Using the Crew Exploration
Vehicle, we will undertake extended human missions to the moon as
early as 2015, with the goal of living and working there for
increasingly extended periods. Eugene Cernan, who is with us today
-- the last man to set foot on the lunar surface -- said this as he
left: "We leave as we came, and God willing as we shall return, with
peace and hope for all mankind." America will make those words come
Returning to the moon is an important step for our space program.
Establishing an extended human presence on the moon could vastly
reduce the costs of further space exploration, making possible ever
more ambitious missions. Lifting heavy spacecraft and fuel out of
the Earth's gravity is expensive. Spacecraft assembled and
provisioned on the moon could escape its far lower gravity using far
less energy, and thus, far less cost. Also, the moon is home to
abundant resources. Its soil contains raw materials that might be
harvested and processed into rocket fuel or breathable air. We can
use our time on the moon to develop and test new approaches and
technologies and systems that will allow us to function in other,
more challenging environments. The moon is a logical step toward
further progress and achievement.
With the experience and knowledge gained on the moon, we will
then be ready to take the next steps of space exploration: human
missions to Mars and to worlds beyond. (Applause.) Robotic missions
will serve as trailblazers -- the advanced guard to the unknown.
Probes, landers and other vehicles of this kind continue to prove
their worth, sending spectacular images and vast amounts of data
back to Earth. Yet the human thirst for knowledge ultimately cannot
be satisfied by even the most vivid pictures, or the most detailed
measurements. We need to see and examine and touch for ourselves.
And only human beings are capable of adapting to the inevitable
uncertainties posed by space travel.
As our knowledge improves, we'll develop new power generation
propulsion, life support, and other systems that can support more
distant travels. We do not know where this journey will end, yet we
know this: human beings are headed into the cosmos. (Applause.)
And along this journey we'll make many technological
breakthroughs. We don't know yet what those breakthroughs will be,
but we can be certain they'll come, and that our efforts will be
repaid many times over. We may discover resources on the moon or
Mars that will boggle the imagination, that will test our limits to
dream. And the fascination generated by further exploration will
inspire our young people to study math, and science, and engineering
and create a new generation of innovators and pioneers.
This will be a great and unifying mission for NASA, and we know
that you'll achieve it. I have directed Administrator O'Keefe to
review all of NASA's current space flight and exploration activities
and direct them toward the goals I have outlined. I will also form a
commission of private and public sector experts to advise on
implementing the vision that I've outlined today. This commission
will report to me within four months of its first meeting. I'm today
naming former Secretary of the Air Force, Pete Aldridge, to be the
Chair of the Commission. (Applause.) Thank you for being here today,
Pete. He has tremendous experience in the Department of Defense and
the aerospace industry. He is going to begin this important work
We'll invite other nations to share the challenges and
opportunities of this new era of discovery. The vision I outline
today is a journey, not a race, and I call on other nations to join
us on this journey, in a spirit of cooperation and friendship.
Achieving these goals requires a long-term commitment. NASA's
current five-year budget is $86 billion. Most of the funding we need
for the new endeavors will come from reallocating $11 billion within
that budget. We need some new resources, however. I will call upon
Congress to increase NASA's budget by roughly a billion dollars,
spread out over the next five years. This increase, along with
refocusing of our space agency, is a solid beginning to meet the
challenges and the goals we set today. It's only a beginning. Future
funding decisions will be guided by the progress we make in
achieving our goals.
We begin this venture knowing that space travel brings great
risks. The loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia was less than one year
ago. Since the beginning of our space program, America has lost 23
astronauts, and one astronaut from an allied nation -- men and women
who believed in their mission and accepted the dangers. As one
family member said, "The legacy of Columbia must carry on -- for the
benefit of our children and yours." The Columbia's crew did not turn
away from the challenge, and neither will we. (Applause.)
Mankind is drawn to the heavens for the same reason we were once
drawn into unknown lands and across the open sea. We choose to
explore space because doing so improves our lives, and lifts our
national spirit. So let us continue the journey.