U.S. Vice President Pence’s Remarks at 2019 International Astronautical Congress Opening Ceremony

Walter E. Washington Convention Center

Washington, D.C.

10:41 A.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you. Thank you, Administrator Jim Bridenstine. Thank you for those kind words. But more importantly, would you all join me in thanking the great administrator of NASA for the work he is doing to revive American leadership in space? (Applause.)

And to all the extraordinary leaders and innovators gathered here from all across America and all around the world — men and women who are share — who share our vision for human exploration, for American and worldwide innovation, carrying us back to the vast expanse of space: It is my great honor to welcome all of you to this incredible gathering, celebrating the power of the past and the promise of the future, the Opening Ceremony of the 70th International Astronautical Congress. Welcome to Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

And as I begin, allow me to bring greetings from a man who is committed to renewing American leadership here on Earth and in the boundless expanse of space and who has brought a renewed vigor and vision to America’s space enterprise. I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)

You know, the United States has always been a nation of restless pioneers, ever striving to explore uncharted lands, reach new horizons, and venture into the unknown, including efforts to expand the boundaries of human knowledge.

And earlier this year, the world paid tribute to three great Americans and to the 400,000 men and women who made their journey possible 50 years ago this year, when those three Americans and all who support them undertook “the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure upon which mankind [had] ever embarked.” They turned “one small step for man” into “one giant leap for mankind.” And today, you’ll help celebrate that.

So would you join me in congratulating the 2019 World Space Award winners, the crew of Apollo 11? (Applause.) Including the incomparable Buzz Aldrin, who is with us here today — (applause) — the grandson of Michael Collins, and the son of Commander Neil Armstrong, Mark Armstrong. Let’s hear it, everybody. (Applause.)

It’s an honor to be with all of you and to remember the extraordinary contributions that you, Buzz, and your family members made to mankind 50 years ago.

And as I stand before you today, as we remember the past, I’m proud to report that the United States of America is renewing the legacy of those courageous space pioneers and all they represent. Because under President Donald Trump’s leadership, America is leading in space once again. (Applause.)

In our first year in office, after it had lain dormant for nearly a quarter of a century, President Trump revived the National Space Council to coordinate space activities across the whole of government. And it is, as Jim Bridenstine said, my great honor to serve as chairman of the National Space Council, as other Vice Presidents have done before me.

At President Trump’s direction, we’ve renewed America’s commitment to human space exploration, vowing to go further into space than ever before.

In our first year in office, the President signed what came to be known as Space Policy Directive-1, making the national policy of the United States of America to return to the Moon and prioritize crewed missions to the lunar surface.

And earlier this year, President Trump made it the policy of this administration to return to the Moon by 2024, ensuring that the next man and the first woman on the Moon will both be American astronauts. (Applause.)

In fact, as you just heard, NASA made history this past week when it successfully performed the first unmanned spacewalk — the first all-woman spacewalk as [in] history. So join me in congratulating American astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch for their historic accomplishments, past, present, and future. (Applause.)

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

With Apollo in the history books, the Artemis mission has begun, and we are well on our way to making NASA’s Moon-to-Mars Mission a reality.

In order for us to take this next big leap, we’ll develop the technologies to live on the Moon for months and even years. We’ll learn how to make use of resources that the Moon has to offer. That includes mining oxygen from the lunar surface and rocks to fuel reusable landers, extracting water from the permanently shadowed craters of the south pole, and developing a new generation of nuclear-powered spacecraft that will help us fly further and farther and faster than ever before.

So we’re going back to the Moon and then to Mars. And we’re taking steps to ensure that the American space industry is up to the task as well. Working with partners from our Users’ Advisory Group, we promulgated a long range of reforms to invigorate the commercial space sector across this country and across the world. In fact, I know that many members of the Users’ Advisory Group — leaders in industry that are giving counsel to our nation’s space efforts — are with us today. Would the members of the Users’ Advisory Group please stand and allow all of these colleagues to show their appreciation to each and every one of you. (Applause.) Thank you all.

I want thank Admiral Jim Ellis and all the distinguished members of the National Space Council’s Users’ Advisory Group. And working with each and one of them, and in close cooperation with our allies around the world, including many of the nations represented here, we’ve encouraged a more stable space environment by developing the word’s first comprehensive Space Traffic Management Policy. And the guidance of our Users’ Advisory Group assisted with that.

Our administration is committed to ensuring that the United States also leverages the power of private enterprise in space. And even now, NASA is leading a commercial-friendly effort to develop the orbital platforms that will one day replace the International Space Station, as well as the human lunar landers that will carry us back to the Moon.

Today, thanks to the leadership that President Trump has provided, the United States of America is open for business to all space enterprises. (Applause.)

As we’ve built up confidence in the opportunities that space can provide, we’ve unleashed the American space industry as never before. Evidence of that: In August, SpaceX carried more than 3,300 pounds of samples and cargo down to Earth at the conclusion of its 18th commercial resupply mission for the International Space Station. Two weeks ago, Northrop Grumman made history when it launched the first-ever commercial satellite-servicing spacecraft to not only extend the lifespan of several satellites, but also pave the way for in-space manufacturing.

And just last week, LeoLabs announced the operation of its advanced Kiwi Space Radar, which has the capability to track debris in space as small as two centimeters and will help protect billions of dollars in spacecraft and satellites from colliding with dangerous objects in orbit.

And space companies have driven incredible economic growth across the globe. I know that’s well understood in this room and by all that are looking on. 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, nearly $25 billion has been invested in nearly 500 different space companies, and I’m proud to say that the majority of those investments have been directed to American businesses.

Our continued success in space will require a close cooperation of all of us across governments, universities, and the commercial space industry, which is what makes this 70th International Astronautical Congress so important.

The good news is that, with the renewed American leadership in space, we’re also seeing renewed cooperation among freedom-loving nations around the world to advance space exploration. Already, as I stand here today, 18 of the nations represented here have proven their ability to work together through the 19-year mission of the International Space Station.

And just last month, Australia announced a historic $150 million investment in the burgeoning space industry in their country, including through support of NASA’s Artemis lunar program and our future mission to Mars.

Canada has already agreed to support development of the Lunar Gateway — a critical outpost and refueling station that’ll help us develop technologies, test the systems, and train the astronauts for the first-ever crewed mission to Mars.

And just last week, Prime Minister Abe announced Japan’s intention to join our efforts, both in the Lunar Gateway and on the lunar surface. Japan has been a vital partner of the International Space Station, in our mutual defense and in countless other endeavors. And so we are grateful for this most recent sign of Japan’s enduring commitment to a partnership and for their support of our Moon-to-Mars Mission.

And as I stand before you today, even now I know that our friends and allies in Europe are holding active discussions about involvement in our space exploration missions. So on behalf of the United States of America, let me say to all of our allies and partners in space: Thank you for working with us to advance human understanding in space. We will do it together. (Applause.)

You know, when President Trump revived the National Space Council, he said that he believed, as I do, that, “It is America’s destiny…to be the leader amongst nations on our adventure into the great unknown.” And American history has proven that out. But to be clear, our vision is to be the leader amongst freedom-loving nations on the adventure into the great unknown.

And here at this International Astronautical Congress, let me say: The United States of America will always be willing to work closely with like-minded, freedom-loving nations, as we lead mankind into the final frontier. (Applause.)

As more nations gain the ability to explore space and develop places beyond Earth’s atmosphere, we must also ensure — we must also ensure that we carry into space our shared commitment for freedom and the rule of law and private property.

The long-term exploration and development of the Moon, Mars, and other celestial bodies will require the use of resources found in outer space, including water and minerals. And so we must encourage the responsible commercial use of these resources, which is why the United States will continue to honor international law and existing space agreements that protect private property, while pursuing new policies that build trust with our allies, our commercial partners, and other spacefaring nations.

We will use all available legal and diplomatic means to create a stable and orderly space environment that drives opportunity, creates prosperity, and ensures our security on Earth and in the vast expanse of space. (Applause.)

Space plays a critical role in our national security as it does for every nation around the world. And, to that end, President Trump has directed our administration to work with bipartisan leadership in Congress. And soon, we will stand up the sixth branch of our Armed Forces: the United States Space Force. Soon, it will be a reality and the Space Force will be a vanguard to defending our nation, defending our freedom, and defending the rights of all freedom-loving nations in the vast expanses of space.

So it’s an honor to be with all of you today, to be able to update you briefly on the progress that we’re making. And I know this is going to be a momentous week as you gather here at this important international conference. I hope you will leave America’s capital with confidence that America is leading in space again, and that we are determined to lead — be the leader amongst freedom-loving nations into the vast expanse of space.

We’re opening the doors for private space enterprise to develop the means and technology for low-Earth orbit. And with the President’s vision for NASA’s renewed Moon-to-Mars Mission, I truly believe that, working with so many of the nations gathered here, we will once again inspire the world by the heights we reach and the history we make.

So thank you for the opportunity of addressing each one of you today. You know, it is said — it is said, without a vision, that people perish. And I would offer today that so, too, do great endeavors.

The truth is, for more than a generation, a vision for human space exploration had languished in this country and around the world. But those days are over. With America’s renewed vision for human space exploration, we will lead mankind into the vast expanse of space.

The task before us will involve hardship and hazard, sacrifice and determination. And it will require faith. Faith in the boundless capacity of American ingenuity and the ingenuity and cooperation of freedom-loving nations around the world. Faith in the extraordinary courage of the men and women who, even now, train and prepare to move the boundary lines of human knowledge. And faith, as generations of Americans have long believed, that even if we rise on the wings of the dawn, even if we go up to the heavens, even there, His hand will guide us and His right hand will hold us fast.

So thank you for the opportunity of addressing you today and helping you begin what I know will be an important week in the space enterprise in our nation around the world.

And I’m confident that with the leadership of President Donald Trump, with the courage of a new generation of explorers, with the strong support and cooperation of our private partners, and with the strong cooperation of all of our freedom-loving international allies, and with God’s help, we will lead the world into the vast expanse of space once again for the benefit of all mankind.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless the nations represented here. And God bless America. (Applause.)

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