NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
before the Committee on Science
U.S. House of Representatives
January 6, 1995
We're downsizing. We cut our five-year budget projection by 30%. We're replacing big, expensive projects with smaller, more efficient ones. We're in the midst of a zero base review that puts everything on the table. No program is sacred. We're looking at everything NASA does.
We've stepped up to the challenge of reinventing government. NASA has already reduced its roll by about 1500 employees, as we still have about 2,500 to go. We've chopped our Headquarters support contracts by roughly 25 percent, and our Centers had taken even deeper cuts.
The bottom line is that NASA is making fundamental changes. The result will be a NASA that does the right things, with the right number of people at the right cost. A NASA that is even more relevant to out ultimate customer: the American taxpayer.
There are three basic reasons America has a space and aeronautics program. And all of them have to do with relevance.
One, NASA helps give America's children economic security. We broaden the nation's economic base. That's an investment in their future. Two, we help give America's children national security. We help preserve America's leading edge in science and technology. And three, we enrich society. We make American's lives better.
Let me expand on that just a little. NASA's programs benefit and inspire all Americans, whether they're in Pennsylvania, South-Central Los Angeles, or the high plains states. Many things we take for granted today --medical imaging devices, ultra-reliable communications systems, even automatic teller machines--had their genesis in technology we developed to meet tough challenges in space.
But NASA's relevance is in more than just "spinoffs." The U.S. aviation industry has greatly benefitted from the high-risk technology work in our aeronautics program. Our satellite and aircraft imagery has helped Americans cope with natural disasters such as Hurricane Andrew, the Midwest floods and earthquakes in California.
One of the reasons we can do all this is our special role in science and technology. We're the bridge between the fundamental research done by universities, and the goods and services delivered by industry.
Our ability to be this bridge is strengthened by teamwork with other Agencies. We do some of this through the National Science and Technology Council. The Council was established by the President on November 23, 1993 to coordinate science, space and technology throughout the federal government. This coordination draws on what each Agency does best. It cuts redundancy and waste. And it helps government deliver more to the American people.
While the Administration is making changes to prepare for the future, I believe it is important that this Congress, at the same time it pursues a balanced budget amendment as a key element of the Contract for America, ensure that a very high priority is given to continued, stable investment in the Nation's civil research and development agenda. Balancing the budget by 2002 will involve an extraordinary degree of fiscal discipline. While working towards this goal, we must keep in mind that continued investment in R&D is a critical component of our economic security and the best means by which we can assure a prosperous future for America.
That's a little bit about where NASA is today. Now let me talk about the vision for NASA in the year 2015.
First, NASA itself will be very different. We'll be different in many, many ways, but let me just give you a few examples.
By the year 2015, the reinvention of NASA begun by this Administration will have produced a much more effective expenditure of resources. We'll devote much more of our resources to R&D to accomplish the real challenges in space and aeronautics, and the very bold endeavors such as revolutionary planetary missions, new launch vehicles and high-performance computers. We'll spend much less on operations and infrastructure. We'll put most of our resources into research and technology development and let industry do the rest.
We'll have a new management system, too. And we'll write objective, simple contracts. Contracts that say something like, "We'll pay X amount of dollars to the first company to return water samples from Mars."
We'll be developing the tools of the future. We'll need them. Right now, computer speeds are off by nine orders of magnitude for what we want to do. We'll need cutting-edge technologies to do our missions.
Which brings me to our basic mission. NASA is an investment in the future because we explore. We go out into the wilderness of space and peel away its secrets. And by the year 2015, we'll have some stunning new glimmers.
We'll have mapped the entire Solar System. We'll have gone past Pluto and out to the Oort cloud, where the building blocks of creation are hidden.
We'll take pictures of every planet around the 100 nearest stars at a resolution of 100 to 1,000 km.
We will have sent an armada of small spacecraft out into the universe. They'll cost tens of millions of dollars, not ten times that. They'll be light, too -- 50 to 100 kilograms each. And instead of needing thousands of people on the ground to support them, they'll be self-sufficient.
The data they send back will be available to everyone. In real time. People in America and around the world will be watching as we fly by Pluto and drill wells on Mars.
Robots on the Moon will be operated by children as part of their regular science classes. High school students will analyze samples and put their findings on the Internet.
This kind of data won't just belong to scientists anymore. It will belong to the world.
We'll better understand our own planet, too, thanks to Mission to Planet Earth and other programs. Working closely with other agencies, by the year 2015, we will understand the fate of the ozone hole, and the U.S. will have capabilities to provide global climate trends months in advance. Farmers will study satellite data to measure the health of crops and balance world food needs. The nations' of the world will be sharing environmental data through a global change data system.
And then there's the future of human exploration.
The international Space Station is the key. That's where we're going to learn what we need to know to go further into space. It's our stepping-stone into deep space.
But we won't allow the Station to outlive its usefulness. In fact, by 2015, the Space Station may have served its purpose. We may have learned how people can live and work in space for long periods of time. We may know what we need to know to send human beings to another planet.
We'll also have a new rocket by the year 2015. One that's more efficient and cheaper than the Shuttle. We'll have new power generation, robotic tools and many other 21st Century technologies.
And we'll know the answer to a question that's tantalized the world for the last 25 years. Where should we go next? We could build a lunar base on the Moon. Or an experimental laboratory on a near-Earth asteroid. We could build an industrial park in space. Or go to Mars and find out if people can live there. In other words, we'll be ready to change history.
I've talked a lot about the exciting possibilities in space. But I don't want to ignore our aeronautics program. It's vital to the U.S. aviation industry. And that industry is one of America's greatest strengths. In the year 2015, our research will be even more closely coupled with industry needs. We'll be more relevant to U.S. aviation. We will have gained back hundreds of thousands of jobs. And regained much of the 25% market share this country has lost in the last 25 years.
All of this -- in aeronautics and in space -- is within our grasp. We can do it. We're revolutionizing NASA to do it.
But we have to be willing to take some falls along the way. Some of the things I've talked about are risky. Bold ventures are. We will have failures. There will be losses. Pushing the edge of the envelope has never come with guarantees. Doing new things doesn't always work right the first time. We can't let that stop us. We can't be too fainthearted for the journey.
It will be worth it. We will deliver tremendous benefits to Americans.
We'll develop design tools that help industry cut development time for products and systems. We'll increase fuel efficiency. We will understand how people can live and work in space. We'll enrich the lives of the aging, the suffering and ill. We already have quite a track record with that.
And we will inspire America's children. In this age of fierce global competition, the U.S. ranks 13th in math and science. Our children need skills, and they need inspiration. They need to be excited about America's future and theirs.
NASA will play a pivotal role as America enters the next century. Twenty years from now, America's children could be inspired as never before. Inspired because they travel into space. Because they see and touch the sand and rock of distant planets. Because they're discovering. Because they're connected to the wonders of the universe. Because their parents' generation made an investment in their future.