Status Report

Remarks by Vice President Pence to NASA’s Ames Research Center Employees and Guests

By SpaceRef Editor
November 14, 2019
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NASA’s Ames Research Center Moffett Field, California 12:38 P.M. PST

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you all.  Thank you for that wonderful, warm welcome.  Join me in thanking the NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, one more time.  He’s doing a fantastic job.  (Applause.)  I want to thank you, Jim, for that kind introduction.

And it really is my great honor not just as Vice President but, as he said, as Chairman of the National Space Council, to be here in the heart of Silicon Valley with the men and women of NASA Ames Research Center, forging the future.  (Applause.)  What a great group.

We got a lot to talk about today, about renewed American leadership in space and the role that NASA Ames will play and has always played in American leadership in the great beyond.

But before I begin, allow me to take a moment to address a matter that I know is on the hearts and minds of people all across California and all across the nation: the shooting that took place at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita earlier today.  Five people were injured, and, tragically, a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy have lost their lives.  This was another heartbreaking day for students and parents in America.

In this nation, we mourn with those who mourn and we grieve with those who grieve.  And to the families of those who lost loved ones, and to those who were critically injured, on behalf of the American people, I say from my heart: The hearts of every American are with you today.  Our prayers are with you.  And our prayers are with all the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff that are treating your loved ones at this very hour.

I spoke to President Trump not long ago, and he asked me to convey his deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and the entire Santa Clarita community.  I also spoke to LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, and I informed him that President Trump has directed the full resources of the federal government to support local law enforcement efforts as the investigation goes forward.  And our teams are already on the ground.

And let me say, on behalf of the President, we commend the swift response of local law enforcement and school officials.  They undoubtedly saved lives.  (Applause.)

So our hearts are with the families of the victims in Santa Clarita today.  Our hearts are with everyone in that community in the difficult days that lies ahead.  And so will they remain in our prayers.

But to every American, and all of you gathered here, we say: This President and this administration will remain resolved to bring the scourge of mass shootings to an end.  And we will not rest or relent until we end this evil in our time and make our schools and our communities safe again.  (Applause.)  So thank you for that.

And thank you again for the warm welcome.  It really is great to be here at NASA Ames Research Center.  I passed through not long ago, but I promised to come back — (laughter) — because you all have been making history for a long time.  And we’re about to make even more history, and it’ll pass right through NASA Ames and all of your incredible talents.  (Applause.)  It will.

To Dr. Tu and all the innovators and visionaries here who are designing and building that bright future of American leadership in space, it’s a great honor to join you here in the beating heart of Silicon Valley at the NASA Ames Research Center.

And let me bring greetings from that man I mentioned just a few moments ago and a leader who is even more committed than your Vice President to securing American leadership on Earth and in the boundless expanse of space.  I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)

In his inaugural address to the nation, President Trump proclaimed that the United States stands, in his words, “at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space.”

So it’s a particular honor for me to be here with all of you today, three years into that effort and that renewed American leadership, to stand in the place where, 80 years ago this year, the United States established the second laboratory for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which was the precursor to NASA.

From its earliest days, history records that it was Ames researchers who developed many of the groundbreaking technologies that have paved the way for modern aviation, space exploration, and cutting-edge computing.  And you’re doing it all the way through today.

Innovators here at Ames have built some of the world’s largest and most sophisticated wind tunnels, which have helped advance our understanding of aerodynamics and expanded our knowledge of flight, both in this atmosphere and in the outer worlds.

And as I just learned talking to some of your team members, you even train and prepare some of the latest technologies to keep America safe and strengthen our national defense.  Thank you, NASA Ames.  (Applause.)

Jim just mentioned I spent some time in that simulator, and I got it down okay.  (Laughter.)  But I have to tell you, I was very moved, as I was getting ready to go in the simulator, that I learned not only do they train astronauts that will be returning to the surface of the Moon, but they also were — that same facility was used to train F-35 pilots.  And I just happen to be the proud father of a United States Marine aviator who flies one of them.  (Applause.)  So thank you, Ames.  Thank you for your contributions to our national defense.

You know, many of our fundamental flight technologies wouldn’t be possible without the revolutionary work that you’ve done here.  From the swept-back wing used in high-speed aircraft, to the blunt body concept, which prevents spacecraft from burning up during planetary reentry, and the Viking Lander, which was the first spacecraft in human history to perform experiments on Mars — it all came through here and through the technology and innovation of NASA Ames.

For 80 years, the brilliant men and women who work here have developed the technologies of the future, demonstrating the power of American ingenuity and inspiring a rising generation across our nation and across the world.

In fact, I’m actually told that Steve Jobs said that he fell in love with computers when he saw one that was in use for the first time as a boy visiting NASA Ames.  (Applause.)  You’ve been inspiring generations, transforming American leadership and transforming our nation in so many ways.

So on behalf of our grateful nation, let me just begin by saying thank you.  Thank you to all of you at today’s NASA Ames for carrying on the proud tradition of this great institution.  (Applause.)  Great job.  Fantastic.

And, you know, just as NASA Ames has been at the center of American leadership in space in years past, let me assure you NASA Ames will be at the center of American renewed leadership in space for decades to come.  (Applause.)

Earlier today, I toured your state-of-the-art Arc Jet facility, which tests the spacecraft and equipment that’ll keep our space pioneers safe.  I saw firsthand that Vertical Motion Simulator, which prepares astronauts for flight in space.  And I got a chance to move it around a little bit myself.

And I know all of you are proud to be developing the VIPER rover that I got a firsthand look at, which will allow us to explore and perform experiments on south pole of the Moon in preparation for our return of human American astronauts to the surface of the Moon.  (Applause.)

And rest assured these technologies, the incredible work being done here at NASA Ames, is going to play a critical role in that new chapter of American history in space.  Because at President Trump’s direction, we’ve put an end to decades of budget cuts and declining commitment to American leadership in space.  We’ve renewed America’s commitment to human space exploration.  And, at the direction of this President, we are going to go farther and faster and higher than ever before.  I promise you.  (Applause.)

And let me take a moment just to thank some great Americans who’ve come out of extraordinary backgrounds and experiences, who are actually here with us today.  The National Space Council was reestablished by President Trump shortly after our administration took office.  But we brought together a group of extraordinary Americans in what we call the User Advisory Group.  And they’ve been making recommendations and detailed proposals that President Trump has been implementing ever since.

So join me thanking the Chairman of the User Advisory Group, Admiral Jim Ellis, and also Eric Stallmer, and Fred Klipsch — three distinguished Americans — (applause) — in making an incredible job.  Thank you, Admiral.

With the steady counsel of these experts and our National Space Council, President Trump has been busy at work.  In fact, in our first year in office, President Trump signed what came to be known as Space Policy Directive-1, making it the national policy of the United States of America to return to the Moon and prioritize crewed missions on the lunar surface.  We’re going back.  (Applause.)

In fact — in fact, we’re not only going back to the Moon, but rather, in just a matter of a few months, thanks to the energetic leadership of this President and the strong efforts that all of you have made, after years of being out of the launch business, we’re going to be back.  And before spring arrives next year, we’re going to send American astronauts on American rockets, from American soil, back into space.  (Applause.)  We’re going to have our own platforms to take us back, and we don’t need to hitch a ride with the Russians anymore.

And earlier this year, I was proud to be a part when President Trump announced that it’s the policy of this administration to return to the Moon within the next five years.  And we will ensure that the next man and the first woman on the Moon will be American astronauts.  (Applause.)  Artemis is here!  (Applause.)

And as the President reflected, we will “return American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972 for long-term exploration and use,” not only to “plant our flag and leave our footprint,” but to “establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars.”  (Applause.)

So now you know why Jim Bridenstine is so excited.  (Laughter.)  And I want to tell all of you here at NASA Ames: You’re going to be busier than ever before.  (Applause.)

But we celebrated — we celebrated a lot this year: the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.  But Apollo is in the books, and Artemis is here to stay.  (Applause.)  And I’m proud to report, thanks to all the work you’re doing here, that we’re well on our way to making NASA’s new Moon-to-Mars Mission a reality.  And I really wanted to thank you each and every one for your efforts.

And unlike in years past, under this President’s leadership, I’m proud to report we not only have the will, we not only have the support of the American people, we not only have the greatest innovators and inventors, but we also have the budgets to match.  We’re going to give NASA the resources they need to accomplish their mission.  In fact, this President has already signed into law the largest budget ever for this agency in the modern era, and we’re about to add another billion and a half.  (Applause.)

In fact, if you run into members of Congress or senators from here in California, you can say, “I ran into Mike the other day” — (laughter) — “and he said ‘1.6 billion more.’  Put it in the budget.  We’ll get it done.”

And for us to take the next big leap toward Mars, you here at Ames are going to be a critical part of helping us develop the technologies to live on the Moon not for days, but for months and even years.  And we’ll learn how to make use of all of the resources the Moon has to offer.  And that lander I just looked at is going to do that exploration as soon as 2022.

It includes mining oxygen from lunar rocks to fuel our reusable landers, extracting water from permanently shadowed craters on the south pole, and developing a new generation of nuclear-powered spacecraft that will actually help us fly further and farther and faster than ever before.

Now, accomplishing these ambitious goals will require creativity, professionalism, energy.  It’ll also require technologies that were once considered science fiction.  But here at NASA Ames, you’ve done it for decades: You make “science fiction” into “scientific fact,” and you make history at NASA Ames.  (Applause.)  And we’re going to do it again.

Really.  I mean, the brilliant minds here at this historic institution led three of the last five NASA lunar science missions, expanding our understanding of the Moon and the incredible potential that it holds.

And Ames was vital to the success of the LCROSS mission a decade ago —


THE PRESIDENT:  — confirming the existence — yeah, you can give yourselves a round of applause.  That was a big deal.

Confirming the existence of ice on the south pole of the Moon.  And NASA Ames was there to make it happen.  (Applause.)  It’s a big deal.

And as I mentioned before, in 2022, we’ll once again step up to lead with the VIPER mission, we’ll map — we’ll map that water before our crewed missions arrive.  We’ll be able to take full advantage of it as we send American astronauts to the south pole.

And just three weeks ago, NASA Ames, in partnership, I’m told, with Google and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, achieved quantum supremacy.  (Applause.)  Wow.  An incredible feat of computing power that, really, is going to change how we design our spacecraft, operate outside our atmosphere, and conduct missions to the Moon, and Mars, and beyond.  And it all happened here.  It all happened here at NASA Ames.

Ames is proof that in today’s age, the public and private sectors can achieve far more together than we ever have apart.  And you just proved that in that effort.

Not only are all of you here forging the technologies of the future, but the American companies that you work with are on the cutting edge of the space industry, developing the tools and instruments that help us unlock the mysteries of the universe as we journey further into space than ever before.  And you all are playing a critical role today, and you’re going to continue to play that role in bringing together the best minds in America, once again coming here to NASA Ames to make it happen.

And I’m proud to report that, thanks to the President’s leadership, we’ve taken action to unleash that private sector as never before.  The President puts it pretty succinctly.  He says, “Rich guys love rockets,” so we’re going to let them build them and innovate with all the people here at NASA Ames.  (Applause.)  And we’ve been doing it.

And the National Space Council has offered the President changes to where we’ve been streamlining the licensing regimes that oversee commercial launch, re-entry, remote sensing operations.  We’ve been removing outdated regulations that increase costs and stifle innovation.

You know, I remember hearing in one of our National Space Council meetings that you — you actually had a completely separate launch permitting process, depending on which launch facility that you went heavenward from.  It’s incredible to think about it, when we streamline all of that.  And we’ve encouraged a more stable space environment by developing the world’s first comprehensive space traffic management system.

And today, NASA is leading commercial-friendly efforts to plan the orbital platforms that will replace the International Space Station, as well as the lunar landers that will carry us back to the Moon.

And I really want to commend each and every one of you for the way that NASA and the way that NASA Ames are engaging the private sector to bring the best of America back to space.  (Applause.)  Keep it up.

I mean, the truth of the matter is that, under this administration, America is open for business to all space enterprises.  And we’re going to work in ways that will facilitate capital formation and investment and creativity.  But NASA Ames will be playing a critical role in partnership, as you do all the way through today.

Already, I’m told, in the first half of this year, we’ve seen almost as much invested in space companies as we did in the entire year before.  In fact, in the last decade — get this — nearly $25 billion has been invested in nearly 500 different space companies.  And I’m especially proud to say that the majority of those investments have been in American businesses and America’s private space enterprise.  (Applause.)  America is leading.

So thanks again for allowing me to join you today.  I’m truly humbled to be with you and to Dr. Eugene Tu and all the great folks here.  Thank you for — thanks for letting me get in that simulator.  (Laughter.)  That was about the coolest thing I’ve done in a long time.

And all kidding aside, thanks for all you do for the country.  It’s amazing to think about the contributions that NASA Ames has made, not just to American leadership in space, but to our quality of life.  I mean, it’s — it’s been the collective IQs and professionalism and determination of the incredible men and women of NASA Ames that’s been driving American leadership not just in space, but all over this nation for decades.  And I know you’ll continue to do it.

But when it comes to space, you know, President Trump probably put it best.  He said, “It is America’s destiny to be…the leader amongst nations [in] our adventure into the great unknown.”  And we believe it.  I mean, Americans are explorers.  In our hearts, we’re always pushing the outer boundaries.  And that’s always been the culture here at NASA Ames.  And my challenge to each of you is, it needs to continue to be.

We know — we know there will be challenges ahead.  There will be what will seem to be insurmountable barriers.  There will be problems that you’ll have to science your way out of, just the way NASA Ames does all the time.

We also know that there will be courageous men and women who strap on a spacesuit, climb into a capsule, and fly into the vast unknown.  It’ll involve hazard and hardship and sacrifice and determination.  And I know that care with which you do your work here at NASA Ames will always be born of your deep admiration for those with courage enough to go.  And we will give them the best equipment and the best technology to lead America into the vast unknown.

We know that there were three courageous space pioneers we celebrated a lot this year when, 50 years ago, they made their way to the Moon.  Just about a week ago, I planted a Moon tree — you might even know what that is — at the Vice President’s Residence, and Buzz Aldrin was standing right next me, and Neil Armstrong’s son, Rick, was there as well.  It was a very special day.

But, you know, we reflected many times, at many of the 50th anniversary celebrations, something that Buzz and Neil’s son made a point to tell me — and that was that there were three of them that went, two of them that walked on the Moon, but they always thought the real heroes were 400,000 hardworking engineers, mathematicians, and innovators who made the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure in human history happen.  We celebrated 50 years of Apollo 11; we were celebrating all of you, as well.  But well done.  (Applause.)  It’s true.

And they did — I was never at an occasion where Buzz Aldrin and Neil’s family didn’t stop me and say, “No, no.  It was 400,000 people that made it happen.”  And NASA Ames was a big part of it.

I mean, you prove here at NASA Ames that America can and will again accomplish anything we set our mind to.  Because we know we stand on the shoulders of giants, and you do here at Ames.  We carry with us a legacy of American innovators and heroes who have stepped up to serve in this space program at every level.

And even now, our new heroes are being forged.  And they give us courage and they inspire us to dream bigger, to work harder, to reach even greater heights, and to strive for even greater triumphs.  And I know you’ll continue to inspire the nation.

The men and women here at NASA Ames uphold this proud legacy each and every day.  In the years ahead, I want you to get ready because you’re going to write — you’re going to write your chapter here at NASA Ames.  You’re going to write a new chapter of American history and, frankly, of human history and leadership in space.

So on behalf of President of the United States, let me again thank you for all of your hard work, your dedication, and your service to the country.

And leaving here today, I leave with renewed confidence, not just by seeing this impressive facility, but by seeing the determination and resolve and optimism on all of your faces and the faces of everyone I’ve met here today.

I leave here with confidence and with faith.  Faith in all of you here at NASA Ames and everyone involved in America’s space enterprise who will continue to build the tools and technologies to forge a new and brighter future in space than we could ever imagine.  Faith in the extraordinary courage of this new generation of heroes that are, even now, training for those missions and the technology and the equipment and the methods that you’re developing here at NASA Ames to move the boundary lines of human knowledge farther than ever before.

And, lastly, I leave here with faith that, as generations of Americans have long believed, as the proverb wrote, that if we rise on the wings of the dawn, if we settle on the far side of the sea, even if we go up to the heavens, even there His hand will guide us, and His right hand will hold us fast.  And let it be so for all of the men and women who will forge America’s new future in space.

So thank you, NASA Ames.  Thank you for your work yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  Let’s get back to work.  (Applause.)  God bless you.

END                1:05 P.M. PST

SpaceRef staff editor.