By Ken Warren, 45th Space Wing Public Affairs

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The future of America’s military space program has
never been brighter. But, America needs to rededicate itself to space. So
said Gen. Ralph “Ed” Eberhart when he opened Space Congress 2001 in Cape
Canaveral Monday.

General Eberhart, commander in chief for the North American Aerospace
Defense Command and United States Space Command, used those remarks to
set the stage for the 38th Space Congress. During his speech, the general
focused on the congress’s theme: “A Space Odyssey – The Next 50 Years”
and talked about the past, present and future of space launch.

“As we reflect on these past 50 years, if only those pads out there
could talk. The stories they’d tell of science, engineering and great
accomplishments, of tragedies. Those stories would remind us of space
true grit,” the general said.

He moved from the past to the present by saluting the launch teams
involved with the recent successful launches of the Titan IV-B MILSTAR,
Delta II Mars 2001 Odyssey and STS-100 missions.

The future was brought into the mix when the general expressed excitement
about the upcoming arrival of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle era —
with the Delta IV and the Atlas V. “I’m looking forward to the first
launches next year. They will open another chapter in our space launch
odyssey,” he said.

He went on to liken America’s space odyssey to the story of Homer’s
Odyssey, comparing budget shortfalls, changing priorities and technology
that didn’t live up to expectations to the ill winds and Cyclops that
hampered Odysseus. But the general urged America to stay the course and
recommit itself to space exploration.

In General Eberhart’s view, to do those things the nation will have to
invest the capital — both the intellectual capital and the dollars —
to stay on course and realize our destiny in space. He said among the
keys to staying on course are making sure America’s space launch bases
and ranges can compete by modernizing the ranges and better understanding
the cost of space launch.

“I also believe that as we move from the realm of force enhancement to
space control, space launch will be increasingly important,” he said.

The general described space control as a way to protect our assets in
space — military and commercial — from potential adversaries. “It’s a
protect and defend type of approach,” he said. “I think the citizens of
this great nation will count on us to do just that,” he added.

General Eberhart concluded by paying tribute to the spirit of those who
have made America’s space program one of the technological wonders of
the world. He said, “Jules Verne said, ‘What one man can dream, others
can make real.’ And that’s what’s been happening here on Florida’s Space
Coast for 50 years. I’m optimistic it will happen for another 50.”