Press Release

STA Urges Bush Administration to Seek Centralized Space Management

By SpaceRef Editor
February 6, 2002
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ARLINGTON, VA, February 6, 2002- The following is the text of STA President Frank Sietzen’s speech before the 5th Annual FAA AST Forecast Conference in Arlington, Virginia.

Good Morning and welcome to the second day of this important gathering, perhaps one of the more significant assemblies of space launch experts in one place, with the possible exception of when Max Hunter dined alone.

I have had the great privilege of being selected as the new President of the Space Transportation Assocation in what I consider to be a crucial year in spacelift development. Gen. Thomas Moorman’s vision of more affordable U.S. launch vehicles comes to fruition at last this year with the inaugural launches of the two EELV families, the Delta IV and the Atlas V. U.S. space policy faces a renewal, as the old policy constructs of the Clinton administration are bound for replacement with new pathways set by the Bush administration. And, as always, the competition for commercial launch services will continue to be fierce.

It is in this mix of challenge and renewal that I welcome the chance to serve STA’s member companies, and to find new memberships and new member services in what I’m calling a rebuilding year for this association and this industry.

In the aftermath of the dark events of September 11th, the crucial role that the aerospace industry plays in the American economy was made plain to us all. In an administration that didn’t seem to discover us, or who thought a space program was closet space in the old EEOB, space suddenly became a critical element in national economic stability, and as an important tool in winning the war against terrorism.

The new leader selected for NASA, Sean O’Keefe, repeatedly referred to his agency as an element of U.S. national security. Vice-President Cheney confirmed this emphasis at O’Keefe’s swearing in a few weeks back, as has several recent studies and reports, especially SecDef Rumsfeld’s report of a year ago.

We at STA welcome this emphasis, because it suggests that it will bring new attention to the state of our industry, and how the administration, the Congress, and our industry itself can join together to bring new life and new capabilities to our work.

This follow’s FAA’s landmark study last year that charted spacelift’s role in the U.S. economy, a staggering $60 plus billion as measured in jobs and economic activity.

But like every other element of the aerospace industry, space transportation needs a coordinated effort to address our weaknesses and set us anew on the path to opening up access to space.

The Bush administration, thus, must match this rhetoric about the importance of space to national security with more than words. Therefore, the Space Transportation Association is today calling for the administration to reestablish a central organizing body for space within the Executive Office of the President modeled on the previous National Space Council. Space issues clearly need an emphasis and advocates in the White House beyond any one single agency or one agency’s space agenda.
Vice-President Cheney could chair such a group to give it the attention and the visibility that space issues deserve.

If the administration means what it said during O’Keefe’s swearing in about it believing in NASA, it can also act to make the NASA administrator a cabinet-level post. That is, if it really means what it says about space and space matters.

This emphasis on space as an element of national security also means that we should see more U.S.-led space programs and priorities, managed here at home with clear objectives and clear schedules to match. The old multilateral approach of the Clinton years might be fine for foreign policy objectives, but in the final analysis it should be U.S. industry that benefits first and foremost from space dollars, and our technology base that is enhanced and grows as a result.

Of course, such emphasis on our home-grown needs is a two-way street. We therefore would hope that our own members and American primes would seek partnerships with our own U.S. subs whenever possible before looking offshore.

I am not saying that use of foreign space assets or partnering with foreign suppliers is bad. Quite the contrary. But I am saying is that is isn’t always good for the U.S. industrial base.

It cannot be in the national security interests of the United States for us to wake up in a few years to find a single U.S. launch vehicle maker, or one liquid rocket engine maker, or one solid rocket builder. We’ve seen the results of consolidation, and now it is time, not for more diversification, but to make better use of our own industry. To give more attention to its needs, how we can grow it, how we can make it stronger and more competitive and solid.

This renewed emphasis on space should include Capitol Hill. There are too many committees spread across the House and Senate that deal with U.S. aerospace programs and policies. We therefore, call upon the Congress to look to reform the existing committee structure to better manage their legislative and budget oversight functions.

Our political leaders have been calling for consolidation in our industry for years. Well, they got it. Now it is time for them to do a bit of consolidation of their own!

The way aerospace programs are managed also needs some reforms.

We find attractive the idea of blending aeronautics and aerospace technology research and the general and commercial aviation programs into a national development of a single supersonic-to-low orbit rocket vehicle that can support both the passenger and cargo markets. And such a program should get a new program office not nestled inside any one agency or bureaucracy.

We at the STA believe it is time space transportation efforts be fully integrated into the nation’s air transportation plans.

We hail the work of AST under Patty Grace Smith’s leadership, building on Frank Weaver’s work. The Air Traffic Control CONOPS is a great first step in that direction.

But the rhetoric about aviation and space being brought together to help fight terrorism should be followed by a stable, funded, long term vision that results in a high volume human and cargo reusable vehicle in the next decade of this century.

Such a vehicle, and a strong industry that embraces it, is the best answer to long term U.S. space industry competitiveness.

We are also encouraged by the new commission on the future of the aerospace industry. With Bob Walker as its chair, and with the work of such commissioners as John Douglass and Buzz Aldrin, we think that creative, realistic solutions to our industry’s concerns will emerge from their deliberations. Solutions such as tax-free bonds to stimulate entrepreneurial launch firms, and making infrastructure repair and reinvigoration as national space goals, as important to our future in space as returning to the Moon or heading for Mars, either of which will require a competitive launch system and the spaceport to send it there.

For us at STA, we will work this year to strengthen member services, to increase our legislative tracking and monitoring, and to identify key issues of concern to our membership.

We will rebuild our web site and pack it with relevant information and documents. We will carefully watch over the evolution of IHPRPT, of the DoD’s R-1 spending plans, the need to accelerate-not defer- shuttle upgrades, and the advancement of SLI’s second and third generation propulsion priorities and risk reduction strategies. All are key to the health of this spacelift industry.

We will actively seek out new membership levels, and new coalitions and constituencies. While our focus is on our own industry, whenever possible I will seek to find common ground with foreign launch providers, developing and identifying common issues that can help the customers of our members, and thus all who depend on commercial space launch services.

Space transportation impacts local needs and state issues, from firms that supply services to spaceports to those who run the shops and serve our member’s employees. From the base of the booster to the tip of the fairing, STA intends to work hard to represent your interests in this tough but exciting market.

Finally, let me close on a personal note.

It was merely a lad when I saw my first rocket.

Both of my Grandfathers were immigrants to this country, and my maternal Grandfather had a particular fascination with space. One evening in the late fall of 1958 he took me out to a nearby field to see a satellite pass over. We thought it was Sputnik, but it was instead the upper stage, the core booster actually, of the R-7 launcher that had put it in orbit.

I remember how struck all the adults were by its importance, and how quiet they all were as it passed, silently, overhead.

Many years and many satellites have come and gone since then. That same type of booster I saw that night would orbit the first space tourist, an American, riding an old Soviet ICBM.

Who would have ever thought that? And you know what? That was a disgrace. That is happened at all was amazing. That is happened over our own objections says more about us than it does about Russia. The age of commercial space tourism has begun. Like the birth of the space age itself more than four decades ago, we can choose to either get on the train, or wave from the sidelines. I believe we have sat on the sidelines long enough.

I’m no rocket scientist. But I work for some of the best in the business. It is time we honored your work not by more speeches and flag
waving, but by making space transportation the focus of a national renewal and of a budgetary commitment.

In the year ahead, no one can forecast what blend of developments will rise to challenge us. But we must band together to shape an agenda that helps our industry advance and manages change, not be afraid of it.

A process of renewal and evolution in an industry-and an association- that is, in Bob Dylan’s words, “busy being born, not busy dying. ..”

Thank-you for your attention, and have a great conference.


For additional information, contact

Frank Sietzen

Space Transportation Association


SpaceRef staff editor.