Remarks by Vice President Mike Pence at Kennedy Space Center
NASA Shuttle Landing Facility, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
July 6, 2017
Hello, Florida! (Applause.)
Senator Rubio, Senator Nelson, Congressman Posey, Congressman DeSantis, Attorney General Bondi, Commissioner Putnam, acting Administrator Lightfoot, Director Cabana, all the leaders of industry and business who are gathered here today, Dr. Buzz Aldrin – (applause) – and all the great men and women of NASA and the Kennedy Space Center, it is my great honor to be with you here today at the dawn of a new era of space exploration in the United States of America. (Applause.)
And I bring greetings from the man who is going to make that happen, his admiration for all of you gathered here and for America’s storied history in space is boundless; and he is committed each and every day to American leadership at home, around the world, and in the boundless expanse of space, the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
You know, in his Inaugural Address, the President rededicated our nation to once again lead in the heavens, and in his words, “unlock the mysteries of space.”
With this President, it’s always about leadership – American leadership. And that begins at home, by putting the security and prosperity of America first. Today, we will speak of this President’s vision for American leadership in space. But between those two spheres, in Warsaw, Poland today, we were reminded that the American President is the leader of the free world. (Applause.)
Today, President Trump stood in Krasinski Square in a rebuilt Warsaw, giving testament to the power of free peoples to assert their own destinies and claim their own futures.
The President noted in his words that as long as we know our history we will know how to build a future, saying that Americans know that a strong alliance of free, sovereign, and independent nations is the best defense for our freedoms and our interests.
The President took the opportunity to challenge our allies to work together to confront forces that threaten over time to undermine those values and erase the bonds of culture, faith, and tradition that make us who we are. And he called on all of our allies in the West to what he called a “commitment of will,” and he reminded us that the defense of the West ultimately rests, in his words, “not only on means but also on the will of our people to prevail.”
Finally, he reminded the world today that our own fight for the West does not begin on a battlefield, it begins with our minds, our wills, our souls, our freedom – and that our survival depends on the bonds of history, culture, and memory.
My fellow Americans, that’s what American leadership looks like on the world stage. (Applause.)
And today, I come to assure you, the men and women of NASA, and all those at this Gateway to the Stars, where the aspirations of the American people have taken flight that under President Donald Trump, America will lead in space once again. (Applause.)
Just last week, President Trump declared that America is, in his words, “going to be leading” in exploration and discovery “like we’ve never led before.” Welcome to a new era of American leadership in space. (Applause.)
You know, I can’t think of a better place to deliver this message than here at the Kennedy Space Center, named for a President who challenged America to undertake, as he said, “the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.”
The Kennedy Space Center is the heart and soul of our nation’s space program, where science fiction has become science fact for generations. Just this past Saturday, this center celebrated its 55th birthday. And for 55 years, you have relentlessly expanded our horizons and given us so many national heroes.
Here, the crew of Apollo 11 set sail for the Sea of Tranquility on the moon. Here, you launched America’s Space Shuttles and America’s astronauts to orbit this Blue Marble. Here, the Hubble Space Telescope, the New Horizons, and so many other technological wonders lifted off from Earth to give us a glimpse of our fellow planets, the distant stars, and the infinite galaxies that are a window into our very past.
And here, from this “Bridge to Space,” our nation will return to the Moon, and we will put American boots on the face of Mars. (Applause.)
My friends, the missions that began at the Kennedy Space Center are carved into the mantle of American greatness. And more than that, they’re etched into the hearts and minds of the American people.
Generations of Americans have marveled at and been inspired by what you do here. We’ve joined in your countdowns, rejoiced in your successes, and we’ve grieved with you in your sorrows – because the missions that start at the Kennedy Space Center have captivated the American people and carried our hopes and dreams into the heavens as almost no other national initiative.
You know, I caught a passion for the space program when I was just a little boy in a small town in Southern Indiana. Some of the most precious memories of my youth were gathered around a black-and-white television, watching images of American heroes making history.
As a member of Congress, I asked to serve on the NASA subcommittee, and I had the privilege, along with my wife and children, to attend several space shuttle launches.
You know, I really have no doubt that my son, who is now a Marine Corps aviator, was inspired to serve as a 10-year-old boy when we sat in the grandstands here at the Kennedy Space Center and watched in awe as America’s heroic astronauts hurtled into space.
You know, I said at the time, that to see the sights and sounds of a launch at here Cape Canaveral was like seeing the Earth giving birth to a piece of the sun and sending it home.
And you’re the ones who make it possible. So give yourselves a round of applause for making miracles happen, for making science fiction, science fact here at the Kennedy Space Center. (Applause.)
The truth is that your work breaks new ground and breaks records in equal measure. And serving each and every day with this President, I can say with confidence: The American space program has a champion in the President of the United States. (Applause.)
President Trump has a deep appreciation for the vital work that NASA does each and every day. That was on full display earlier this year when in the Oval Office, President Trump signed the first NASA Reauthorization Act in more than seven years. (Applause.)
Surrounded by many of these same members of Congress who join us here today, after the bill’s signing, President Trump renewed our nation’s commitment to, in his words, “NASA’s mission of exploration and discovery” – because he knows that every day, the men and women of NASA inspire the American people and enrich the American spirit.
President Donald Trump is already ensuring that NASA has the resources and support you need to make new history from this place; inspire new generations and advance American leadership in the boundless frontier of space – of that you can be assured.
You know, allow me just to take a moment to single out Senator Rubio and Senator Nelson and all the distinguished members of Congress who are here with us today. Would you all mind standing and allowing everyone here to show our appreciation for the great champions of human exploration in space that all of you are? Please rise, and give these leaders in the House and in the United States Senate a big round of applause, would you, please? (Applause.) Thank you so much.
President Trump’s vision for space, though, is much larger than NASA alone. Our President is transforming our entire space policy to seize the opportunities of the 21st century and unleash the infinite potential of the cosmos for the American people.
Extending our nation’s leadership in space is one of the greatest challenges of our day. And just as we have risen to the challenges that came before, so too we will rise to meet the new challenges that lie ahead.
That’s why just last Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to relaunch the National Space Council and guide a new era of space leadership by the United States of America. (Applause.)
After being dormant since 1993, I’m proud to report that the National Space Council is up and running once again. And it will be my great honor, as Vice President of the United States, to serve as its chair. (Applause.)
As the President said last week, the National Space Council, in his words, “will be a central hub guiding space policy within the administration,” filling a void that’s existed in American policy for nearly a quarter-century.
You know, this is actually the third iteration of the National Space Council. American Presidents from Eisenhower to Kennedy, Johnson to Nixon to George H.W. Bush all turned to the National Space Council for assistance and advice.
It was under the first National Space Council’s watch that America put a man in space, put a man on the moon – and with less than a decade between them. And the second council saw our nation through the close of the Cold War, as space became ever more important to our national security.
As you men and women of NASA know, the American people have never lost our passion to explore space and uncover its secrets. But for nearly 25 years, our government’s commitment seems to have not matched the spirit American people. But I’m here to tell you that as we still enter this new century, we will beat back any disadvantage that our lack of attention has placed, and America will once again lead in space for the benefit and the security of all our people and all of the world. (Applause.)
Our National Space Council will reenergize our pioneering spirit in space. It will restore our confidence and the confidence that we can and will achieve the impossible – just like you all here at NASA have done so many times in the course of my life. It will ensure that America once again takes our rightful place as the vanguard of humanity’s historic rendezvous with the future in the outer limits of space.
The council will bring together leaders from the President’s administration including our Secretaries of State, Defense, Commerce, Transportation, and Homeland Security, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, our National Security Advisor, our intelligence leadership, and the NASA Administrator. And I look forward to holding the first meeting of the National Space Council before the summer is out. (Applause.)
President Trump has given the Council the duty, in his words, to “advise and assist” his administration regarding national space policy and strategy, and we’ll be busy doing just that.
We’ll review our current policy and our long-range goals and coordinate national space activities – from national security to commerce to exploration and beyond.
And crucially, at the President’s direction, we will, in his words, foster close coordination, cooperation, technology and information exchange among all the stakeholders and sectors involved in space activity – including government agencies, the armed forces, and leaders from the realms of private industry and the academic world. We will bring the best of America together once again to lead with Americans in space. (Applause.)
As the President said last week, the National Space Council intends to draw on the expertise and insights of scientists, innovators, and business leaders in a whole new way.
These leaders, whom the President and I will be naming in the coming weeks, will form a User Advisory Group. And I know with confidence that their work will dramatically enhance our space policy in the days ahead just as it has in the past.
I’m particularly excited to see the increased collaboration with our burgeoning commercial space industry so much in evidence here at the Kennedy Space Center. You know, I’m really sorry that I missed the successful commercial launch that took place last night. I was praying for rain at the Kennedy Space Center so we might see that rocket go up today.
But the truth is we’re going to continue to foster stronger partnerships between government agencies and innovative industries across this country because we both have so much to offer one another.
In fact, Kennedy Space Center is proof that public and private sectors can achieve more by working together than they could ever achieve apart. This center is today the world’s premier multi-use spaceport, and that truth will only continue to grow. (Applause.)
In conjunction with our commercial partners, we’ll continue to make space travel safer, cheaper, and more accessible than ever before.
The truth is that American business is on the cutting edge of space technology. And under President Trump’s leadership, and with the guidance of the National Space Council, we’ll tap into the limitless well of American innovation because there is no problem the American people can’t solve, no barrier we can’t break down, no objective we can’t achieve when we bring the full force of our national interest and creativity to bear.
You know, the American spirit is as limitless as space itself. And so we will bring that spirit fully to bear on the trials that lie ahead. If we can dream it, we can do it. And under President Trump, we will achieve more in space than we ever thought possible.
President Trump observed just last week, “the human soul yearns for discovery,” and I would say that’s especially true for those of us who have the privilege to call ourselves Americans. Under President Donald Trump’s leadership, we will reorient America’s space program toward human space exploration and discovery for the benefit of the American people and all of the world. (Applause.)
We will return our nation to the moon. We will go to Mars, and we will go still further to places that our children’s children can only imagine.
We will maintain a constant presence in low-Earth orbit, and we will develop policies that will carry human space exploration across our solar system and ultimately into the vast expanse of space.
As the President has said, space is, in his words, the “next great American frontier.” And like the pioneers that came before us, we will settle that frontier with American leadership, American courage, and American ingenuity.
As we once again lead in space exploration, we will continue to make the investments and presence in space to ensure the safety and security of the American people. Space is vital to our national security. I saw it firsthand when I visited Schriever Air Force Base just a few weeks ago. And I can assure you, under President Donald Trump, American security will be as dominant in the heavens as we are here on Earth. (Applause.)
The tasks that lie before us requires the highest levels of courage, commitment, and dedication. The challenges will be difficult. But difficulty brings out America’s best, and America’s best can’t be beaten by anybody at any time.
Some 55 years ago, the namesake of this base, President John F. Kennedy, declared that America would put a man on the moon before the decade was out, a feat unlike any imagined in human history.
As he said at the time, we were willing to accept the challenge, and unwilling to postpone it, and that challenge is one in his words – “one which we intend to win.” And with your forbearers here at the Kennedy Space Center and Houston and all across NASA, we did win the race to the moon. (Applause.)
We won the race a half-century ago, and now we will get back to wining in the 21st century and beyond.
Under the leadership of President Donald Trump and with the guidance of the National Space Council, the United States of America will usher in a new era of space leadership that will benefit every facet of our national life.
We will strengthen our economy. We will unlock new opportunities, new technologies, and new sources of prosperity. We will inspire our children to seek education in science, technology, engineering, and math. We’ll enhance our common defense and advance the security of the American people.
But most of all, under President Trump’s leadership, we will renew the American spirit itself.
I know in my heart that today the heavens are closer than ever before. We’re restarting a journey that will take us to new heights of knowledge, new heights of accomplishment. And above all, I know with confidence that we will reach those new heights of American leadership with American values and American ingenuity.
As President Trump said last week, in his words, “It is America’s destiny to be the leader amongst nations on our adventure into the great unknown.”
And with the National Space Council, we will grab that destiny with both hands and go to work with each and every one of you.
So let us go forth and start this new chapter of that adventure. Let us have the courage and the confidence that’s always defined who we are as Americans. And let us do what our nation has always done since its very founding and beyond: We’ve pushed the boundaries on frontiers, not just of territory but of knowledge. We’ve blazed new trails, and we’ve astonished the world as we’ve boldly grasped our future without fear.
And as we go, let us have faith – faith that as we enter this new era of exploration and discovery, that this rising generation of American explorers and innovators will once again deliver on the hopes and aspirations of our people just like you’ve done before.
And as this new generation of astronauts suits up, let them have the faith that they do so surrounded by the prayers of the American people with the absolute assurance that as they rocket into the heavens, they do not go alone.
For as the Psalmist teaches us, if we rise on the wings of the dawn, if we go up to the heavens, even there His hand will guide us, and His right hand will hold us fast.
My friends, the future beckons – and so do the furthest depths of space. Together, as one nation and one people, we will raise our eyes to gaze with wonder at the stars and once again renew our commitment to reach out our hands and touch the heavens.
With confidence in all of you and with confidence in the strong vision and leadership of President Donald Trump, I know America will lead in space once again.
Thank you. God bless you and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)