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Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

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Introduction by Jane Wales


Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Good afternoon.

Just a few weeks ago we had a ballet in space between the American shuttle and the Russian MIR station. We had two countries that were just a few years ago pointing missiles at each other across the oceans, and here the day after the launch the Russians expressed concern about the leaky thrusters that we had on our shuttle and said, "We are afraid that it might come in and damage our MIR space station." As I sat in my house on Sunday and listened to the news reports I thought, "should I pick up the phone, and shall I activate the senior-level managers, or should I let the process work its way out?" I opted for the latter.

For the last year and a half, under the leadership of our President and Vice President, and President Yeltsin and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, we have literally had hundreds and thousands of engineers on both sides talking to each other, so we said, "Let's see if trust has been built because this is not just about technology, it is about trust."

We were supposed to rendezvous at 2:30 on Monday, and at 10:30 in the morning on Monday, Jack Daily, who is my Deputy at NASA, walked into my office. He said, "This is a great day! The Russians trust us. Our engineers worked with their engineers, and they are no longer afraid we will damage their space station."

I just had to pinch myself and say, "Is this reality?" Here is Dan Goldin, at TRW, in the defense and weapons business, and here is Yuri Koptev, the head of the Russian Space Agency, a few years ago at the Bureau of Machine Building, doing similar things to what I was doing. In fact, he went out to TRW just recently and before he went, he said, "I know what you were doing." I said, "I cannot acknowledge anything." Boy, was he accurate!

Another thing that struck me was we had a delegation that just got back from the Ukraine, and they were talking about flying the Ukranian space welding machine on board the space shuttle. This again is unbelievable.

I was in Dnepropatrovsk, I spent my life looking at Dnepropatrovsk. I was looking through the weapons laboratory there, and this was just a year and a half ago. Here we are today talking about the possibility of flying a Ukrainian cosmonaut and testing out the most advanced space welding tool ever conceived by humankind.

The sands of the Sahara blow and a funny thing happens, and we only found this out from space through international cooperation: Those sands come up into the upper atmosphere, they go across the Atlantic Ocean, and they land on the Brazilian rain forests. That sand has nutrients that nourish the plants in the rain forests so the biomass can grow, so carbon dioxide can be converted into oxygen, and so the world can breath.

This is something that we just did not realize until a few years ago, and the only reason we found it out is that we have satellites that sit above the earth, that holistically look down, and international scientists look at the data and collaborate and understand this is important.

A number of discoveries have been made relative to chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Someone can have a spray can in Kazakhstan and do the same kind of damage to the ozone layer as someone in the United States, or France, or South Africa for that matter. We did not understand it, because when some of these CFCs were invented when we invented Freon years ago it was going to be pure and clean and nontoxic. Oh, sure it was. Except we did not know that the CFCs rose into the upper atmosphere and had weird chemical reactions with ultraviolet radiation. It took international collaboration to understand that.

So up is down, and down is up, and left is right, and right is left. I think back to the Cold War era and the Fifties, Sixties, and Seventies, and a word that comes to my mind is "territorialism." I looked in the Collier's Encyclopedia, and let me tell you how they define "territorialism." "Territorial neighbors are often hostile, but rarely kill a neighbor."

If you think back to the Cold War era, we were dominated by a time of territorialism when we had weapons of such mass destruction that we could not go kill each other directly. We had to stand on both sides of the ocean and flex our muscles. Those of you who are old enough to remember, remember the Charles Atlas ads? You know, "Throw the sand in your face, I will go do push-ups and sit-ups and I will stand like this."

Think of the behavior that we had in our world, and that behavior caused us to do a number of things that caused a number of alliances to occur. We had the Eastern and Western blocs, and leadership was very clearly defined: Washington and Moscow. From an economic standpoint, we did not have multinationals and global competition. America had its own domestic market, and that consumed the lion's share of our economic output. We sold overseas, but at the time (it was after World War II) theinfrastructure of the rest of the world was down and our products could dominate. We did not need cooperation because we had the marketplace and we dominated the world marketplace.

We did not understand the environment. We were environmentally illiterate at the time. We had a variety of different forces that caused us to behave differently. Territorialism manifested itself in many ways, and the space program was no different.

We all remember President Kennedy announcing, "We are going to the moon," and we look back on it fondly. In fact, I have talked to many people and we think it was a great scientific achievement. If you go back into history, you ask: Why did President Kennedy do it? It wasn't just for science, goodness and virtue. It had to do with the fact that the Russians had launched the first robotic satellite, and then they launched the first human into space. It was the act of launching Yuri Gagarin that caused fear in this country.

How could America lead the Western Bloc if we were not technologically superior if we did not flex our muscles and project our power? How could we be technologically superior if we did not demonstrate to the world that we could lift larger masses into space, thereby implying that we could lift bigger weapons into space? How could we lead the Western Bloc if we did not have all the key ingredients to push back the Soviet Union?

The Soviet Union did the same thing. So we rushed to Mars, and we rushed to Venus, and we asked: Who is going to soft-land on the moon first? "Who is going to have the first human on the moon?" That absolutely drove what we were doing, and clearly it justified the enormous investment in the space program: 4.5 percent of the total Federal budget. By reference, we are now at .8 percent and dropping like a rock.

People now say, "We want that spirit from Apollo." Well, sure. It was a bipolar world. Leadership was already defined, and all we had to do was supply the money. The world is a lot different today, and it causes us to have these strange reactions.

The Berlin Wall came down, and we had a completely different environment: Multinationals and a huge global marketplace. America has a balance of trade in excess of negative $100 billion a year. If Boeing wants to sell a plane in China, if Boeing wants to sell a plane in Europe, they have got to involve the companies in those countries. The only reason Boeing could sell that plane is it is the best technology in the world; and it has some cooperative aspect to it. It does not happen by magic. It is crucial.

America has got to deal with the former CIS states to convince them to behave in a pattern that we believe is right. We cannot tell them not to proliferate weapons of mass destruction. We cannot demand disarmament. We have got to work with them and convince them that it is in their national interest to do that, and it is in the international interest of this world.

So just sitting on our side of the ocean and flexing our muscles is not going to get our world to the place that we want it to be. We are going to have to have true leadership, and that leadership has to have a number of qualities to it.

First, if we want to lead the world, we will have to earn it. If our products are going to sell in other places, if we are going to have good relations with other countries, then we have got to have superior technology, and that technology must be agile and ready for the marketplace faster than anyone else.

We have to have a reputation not only for performance, but a reputation for commitment. Do we do what we say we are going to do? Or do we begin building a supercollider and then cancel it because we "have budget problems in America" because we have a consumptive society, not an investment society.

People will not want to do business with America if we are going to be unreliable about our world commitments. They will not do business with us if we do not perform.

What is the boldness of what we are doing, and are we really on the cutting edge? Do we have the ability to be inclusive? Or are we going to stand there flexing our muscles, saying, "We deserve it!" Or will we earn it?

These issues are very crucial. We came across these issues in our first major activity in trying to work with the former CIS states, first with the Russians.

The Russian Government just like the American Government, the Japanese Government, and European governments are having tremendous financial stress. The Russians have more severe stress than the rest of us because they tried to go from a totalitarian society to a democracy and from a controlled economy into a capitalist economy overnight. That is one long puff to make happen, so they have some problems.

Are we going to convince them to work with us in a world that is quite volatile and dangerous by hooting and hollering and shouting and flexing our muscles? Or are we going to try to entice them to do things that will be in their national interest? You start by asking: What is important to Russia, and what is important to the United States? Do we have an intersection point that is meaningful to our people? It became very clear, after President Clinton's first summit with President Yeltsin in Vancouver, that there was a point of major intersection between the United States and Russia.

We no longer had to have a space program that demonstrated national macho. I mean, if that was the reason for the space program, we might as well cancel it, but it became very clear that space was crucial to the future economic vitality of our country and Russia. It was crucial to the inspiration of the people. It is crucial for intellectual nourishment, to understand the creation of the universe. It was also clear that neither country had the resources to do all the things we wanted to do. So the Russians said, "This is a good point of intersection. The space program is so important to us that we want to work with America. We cannot afford to have our own human space flight program, so we would like to merge our program with the United States with a U.S.-led international space station." That is leadership.

Many very positive things happened as a result. In my mind, one of the most significant things ever to happen in space was when Jack Daily said, "Dan, the Russians trust us." You have to understand the Russian mentality and psychology to understand what a significant event that is, because it takes time to earn that respect and trust, and we did it in only a year and a half. I am so proud of this team that we have.

Now we are working toward a basic understanding between our peoples. The United States Ambassador to Russia and the Russian Ambassador to the United States both told me that the space station is probably the strongest program connecting the United States and Russia today, with all else that is going on. In a world with all these very difficult situations, we have one shining light that brings us together. In my mind, even though the technology is wonderful, the fact that we have this cultural connection is crucial. Not only are the United States and Russia involved, but also ten European countries, Canada and Japan.

When we talked to our other partners that were already with us from the Western Bloc and said, "The Russians are coming in," they not only said "Yes," but "What a great idea!" They too wanted to participate in this cooperation.

That is one area. There is another area that I think is just as important. We live on a planet that has limited resources, and that is very clear if you take a look at some of the pictures from space. I have one in my office, where from space you can look down on earth and see this little blue fringe around the surface of the planet. That is our atmosphere. Look at the Earth back-lit from the sun, and then you say to yourself, "Here is this lonely planet, sitting against the black sky, and we have this very limited atmosphere. It knows no boundaries. No country could put up a wall and say "This is my atmosphere." We all share the same air. If someone pollutes it, we cannot say "Well, that is not my problem." It is everybody's problem.

It is not just a problem for the developed countries. It is a problem for the developing countries. If the United States were to have its own scientific program to understand our environment and the naturally-induced and human-induced effects on that environment to separate them out so you could make policy decisions relative to global warming, and a whole variety of issues, who would trust us? It would look like an economic wedge. Developing countries would not have that sense of trust.

If we are truly to get policy decisions making them a rational not an emotional level, it is essential that every country in this world participate in the collection of the data, in the processing of the data, and in its dissemination, and make the data openly available to everyone: There will be people who come from every direction but will have truly a worldwide, world-class peer review.

So when the policy makers and the United States Congress and the Russian Duma and the Parliaments in Europe have to make decisions, they will not be based upon passionate speeches that lack knowledge or feeling, but speeches with good hard data that everybody sees and everybody understands. In that sense it is essential, in the United States' national interest and national security.

If we have a natural disaster in the Pacific Rim countries, and we do not have an early warning of that, it will affect our economic and national security. It is in our interest that we understand it at the same time that the people in the Pacific Rim understand it. That is another reason why it is in the national interest.

And, by the way, we did not get together with Russia to have a "feeling good." It was in the United States' national interest to work with the Russians in space. This helped Russia get to understand us and we got to understand Russia. When they started to participate in nonproliferation arrangements which they did the world became a safer place. It is in our national interest. We do not do it out of "feeling good." We have a less expensive space station with twice the power, twice the pressurized volume, much better science and much safer because we have a backup to the Shuttle in the Proton and the Soyuz and the Progress vehicles. It is a safer, robust, more scientific program, but it also builds bridges.

In the same way it is in the United States' national interest to share remote sensing environmental data, because it gives us more economic and national security. When we go to negotiate these treaties, people do it based on understanding, not on emotion and passion.

There is a third area that is very crucial, and I will put it under the term "economics." I will give you two examples of that.

United States long-haul jet transports generate something on the order of $30 billion a year positive balance of trade, it is the highest level of manufactured product that we trade the largest positive balance of trade. In the last 25 years we have lost one percent of market share per year in this area. There is a $1 trillion market, so, in the future, each point of market share is worth $10 billion. If the United States were to put up a wall around ourselves and forget that we have a global economy, and say "we will just sell domestically," we would be out of business.

If we are going to be in the international marketplace we had better learn how to participate with other countries. We cannot force our products on them. The only way we can sell those products is if they are technologically superior. We must be able to productize faster than anyone else in the world can do it. You must be able to have the most economical product in the world. We have to build bridges to other countries.

There are two aspects of this. The technological development we are very cautiously holding to ourselves, because that is the magic key. Once we have demonstrated that leadership, it is crucial that we have a more inclusive system, and that is the only way Boeing and McDonnell Douglas are going to sell planes worldwide. Without that manufacturing capability, we will lose unbelievable skills in high temperature materials, ceramics, combustion, you name it, and this is an area that is very, very important.

We also need cooperation in environmental monitoring, which is what we are doing. The world must become ecologically and technically literate, and the only way to achieve this goal is by sharing. On the other hand, there is a potential $10 billion-a-year market in selling goods and services for remote sensing, so in that respect it is in the United States' national interest to very jealously guard the technologies we have and transfer them to our commercial industry while sharing the scientific results.

We do things in the national interest, and at the same time in the new world we make our planet a safer place to live. We make wonderful economic conditions for our children and children in other countries, and instead of slicing up a smaller pie and pushing it around, we want everyone to benefit from NASA's unique capabilities. Thank you very much.

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