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. (Applause.)

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 follow.

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 in space.

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 exploration.

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 from service.

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 true. (Applause.)

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 right away.

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.

May God bless. (Applause.)

END 3:43 P.M. EST

Fact Sheet: A Renewed Spirit of Discovery

Today’s Presidential Action

  • Today, President Bush announced a new vision for the Nation’s space exploration program. The President committed the United States to a long-term human and robotic program to explore the solar system, starting with a return to the Moon that will ultimately enable future exploration of Mars and other destinations.
  • The President’s vision affirms our Nation’s commitment to manned space exploration. It gives NASA a new focus and clear objectives. It will be affordable and sustainable while maintaining the highest levels of safety.
  • The benefits of space technology are far-reaching and affect the lives of every American. Space exploration has yielded advances in communications, weather forecasting, electronics, and countless other fields. For example, image processing technologies used in lifesaving CAT Scanners and MRIs trace their origins to technologies engineered for use in space.

    Background on Today’s Presidential Action

    America’s history is built on a desire to open new frontiers and to seek new discoveries. Exploration, like investments in other Federal science and technology activities, is an investment in our future. President Bush is committed to a long-term space exploration program benefiting not only scientific research, but also the lives of all Americans. The exploration vision also has the potential to drive innovation, development, and advancement in the aerospace and other high-technology industries. The President’s vision for exploration will not require large budget increases in the near term. Instead, it will bring about a sustained focus over time and a reorientation of NASA’s programs.

  • NASA spends, and will continue to spend, less than 1 percent of the Federal budget. Our Nation’s investment in space is reasonable for a tremendously promising program of discovery and exploration that historically has resulted in concrete benefits as well as inspiring Americans and people throughout the world.

    President Bush’s Vision for U.S. Space Exploration

    The President’s plan for steady human and robotic space exploration is based on the following goals:

  • First, America will complete its work on the International Space Station by 2010, fulfilling our commitment to our 15 partner countries. The United States will launch a re-focused research effort on board the International Space Station to better understand and overcome the effects of human space flight on astronaut health, increasing the safety of future space missions.
    • To accomplish this goal, NASA will return the Space Shuttle to flight 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 Station, and the Shuttle will be retired by the end of this decade after nearly 30 years of service.
  • Second, the United States will begin developing a new manned exploration vehicle to explore beyond our orbit to other worlds — the first of its kind since the Apollo Command Module. The new spacecraft, the Crew Exploration Vehicle, will be developed and tested by 2008 and will conduct its first manned mission no later than 2014. The Crew Exploration Vehicle will also be capable of transporting astronauts and scientists to the International Space Station after the Shuttle is retired.
  • Third, America will return to the Moon as early as 2015 and no later than 2020 and use it as a stepping stone for more ambitious missions. A series of robotic missions to the Moon, similar to the Spirit Rover that is sending remarkable images back to Earth from Mars, will explore the lunar surface beginning no later than 2008 to research and prepare for future human exploration. Using the Crew Exploration Vehicle, humans will conduct extended lunar missions as early as 2015, with the goal of living and working there for increasingly extended periods.
    • The extended human presence on the Moon will enable astronauts to develop new technologies and harness the Moon’s abundant resources to allow manned exploration of more challenging environments. An extended human presence on the Moon could reduce the costs of further exploration, since lunar-based spacecraft could escape the Moon’s lower gravity using less energy at less cost than Earth-based vehicles. The experience and knowledge gained on the Moon will serve as a foundation for human missions beyond the Moon, beginning with Mars.
    • NASA will increase the use of robotic exploration to maximize our understanding of the solar system and pave the way for more ambitious manned missions. Probes, landers, and similar unmanned vehicles will serve as trailblazers and send vast amounts of knowledge back to scientists on Earth.

    Key Points on the President’s FY 2005 Budget

  • The funding added for exploration will total $12 billion over the next five years. Most of this added funding for new exploration will come from reallocation of $11 billion that is currently within the five-year total NASA budget of $86 billion.
  • In the Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 budget, the President will request an additional $1 billion to NASA’s existing five-year plan, or an average of $200 million per year.
  • From 1992 to 2000, NASA’s budget decreased by a total of 5 percent. Since the year 2000, NASA’s budget has increased by approximately 3 percent per year.
  • From the current 2004 level of $15.4 billion, the President’s proposal will increase NASA’s budget by an average of 5 percent per year over the next three years, and at approximately 1 percent or less per year for the two years after those.

    President’s Commission on the Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy

    To ensure that NASA maintains a sense of focus and direction toward accomplishing this new mission, the President has directed NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe to review all current space flight and exploration and direct them toward the President’s goals. The President also formed a Commission on the Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy to advise NASA on the long-term implementation of the President’s vision.

    Space Technology Affects the Lives of Every American

    More than 1,300 NASA and other U.S. space technologies have contributed to U.S. industry, improving our quality of life and helping save lives.

  • Image processing used in CAT Scanners and MRI technology in hospitals worldwide came from technology developed to computer-enhanced pictures of the Moon for the Apollo programs.
  • Kidney dialysis machines were developed as a result of a NASA-developed chemical process, and insulin pumps were based on technology used on the Mars Viking spacecraft.
  • Programmable Heart Pacemakers were first developed in the 1970s using NASA satellite electrical systems.
  • Fetal heart monitors were developed from technology originally used to measure airflow over aircraft wings.
  • Surgical probes used to treat brain tumors in children resulted from special lighting technology developed for plant growth experiments on Space Shuttle missions.
  • Infrared hand-held cameras used to observe blazing plumes from the Shuttle have helped firefighters point out hot spots in brush fires.
  • Satellite communications allow news organizations to provide live, on-the-spot broadcasting from anywhere in the world; families and businesses to stay in touch using cellphone networks; and the simple pleasures of satellite TV and radio, and the convenience of ATMs across the country and around the world.