As presented, Commander in Chief, US Space Command,

“The Promise of Space”for the United States Space Foundation’s 1997 National Space Symposium

3 April 97, 0830-1200

Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, CO


     Well, thanks Gen Pete for that kind introduction.

     You obviously have more faith in my ability to address this symposium this morning than my speech writer. As I was leaving the office on my way here, he said, “I know this is an important speech and that you want to get your message across. . . but one piece of advice, don’t try to be funny, charming, or intellectual. Just be yourself.”

     Well I’ll try to do just that...in fact, those of you that know me know I can’t do anything else...

     General Shaud has asked me to speak to you about the role Air Force Space Command will play in the new core competencies of the Air Force.

     Good Morning ladies and gentlemen. It is a very great pleasure for me to be here today to address what truly is a distinguished group of space leaders and to introduce such an accomplished panel of space experts.

     I feel a particular sense of urgency in addressing this symposium this morning because we all share a common objective—“The Promise of Space”—the theme of this 1997 National Symposium.

     I feel a particular sense of urgency in addressing this symposium this morning because we all share a common objective—“The Promise of Space”—the theme of this 1997 National Symposium.

     Unfortunately, the one word--‘promise’—leads us all to focus on the future because the word itself implies an unfulfilled need or requirement—something to be satisfied sometime in the future.

     Well, ladies and gentlemen, the future is now and now is the time for us get on with it.

     In the words of the famous novelist Victor Hugo, “the future has several names. For the weak, it is the impossible. For the fainthearted, it is the unknown. For the thoughtful and valiant, it is ideal.”

     What country on earth is more ideally suited and intellectually prepared than America to move into the future—to break with the past in favor of the great promise of the future?

     ‘The Promise of Space’ can tempt us to conclude that nothing of serious consequence has yet come of our efforts in space—that the promise of space is yet to be fulfilled. Of course, we, here, know this conclusion to be only partially right -- we are already fulfilling the promise of space; however there is much yet to be done. But what of our fellow countrymen, on whose discretion and innovation we rely for funding and support, to allow us to be part of a revolution that has the potential to underwrite the economic well being of this great nation of ours.

     Today, more than ever, it is important that all Americans understand...our investments in space are rapidly growing and soon will be of such magnitude that they will be considered a vital national security interest on a par with how we value oil today. And, that the understanding of what space means to us as a nation and the support of all Americans are both critical for making the hard decisions required to realize the full potential of space in the years ahead.

     As so insightfully put by the great American novelist John Gardner, “Winning individuals systematically pursue the development of their potential...it is not left to chance.”

     In keeping with the theme of this symposium, it is clear that we must ask ourselves “What Promise”, “What Potential”, has space yet to fulfill in the indeterminate future?

     Put more simply, what is our long-range plan for space—military, civil, commercial, international? What systematic analyses and processes do we implement today to begin our endless dialogue between the potentialities of space and the claims of real life? And once identified, how do we convince our fellow citizens to contribute their treasure, their time, and their energy toward making the plan a reality?

     I am, of course, asking these questions rhetorically, in an effort to raise the vast intellectual, multifaceted, and physical expanse of the journey on which our country, the world, and mankind are now embarked. According to Donald G. Mitchell...”For the future is a great land; a man cannot go around it in a day; he cannot measure it with a bound; he cannot bind its harvests into a single sheaf. It is wider than vision and has no end.” So the challenge is immense but the . . . the rewards of realizing the promise of space are worth all the failures, the frustrations, the seemingly slow progress.

     Now...while it might seem appropriate that I should be more concerned with military space, I must tell you that it is not the future of military space that is critical to the United States--it is the continued commercial development of space that will provide continued strength critical for our great country in the decades ahead. Military space...while important...will follow.

     Commercial space as I said earlier will become an economic center of gravity in the future... and as such will be a great source of strength for the United States and other nations in the world. As such, this strength will also become a weakness...a vulnerability. And it’s here that the US military will play an important role...for we will be expected to protect this new source of economic strength.

     Therefore, I want to take a few moments this morning to tell you what we are doing to get ready for what I believe will be one of the most challenging times for the armed forces of the United States.

     To start with, the military needs to develop a long-range plan for space at the national, Department of Defense, and Service levels. This plan must be in concert with every Service and government agency and in total cooperation with the commercial space sector.

     There have been many studies—Space Cast 2020, New Vistas, Air Force Long-Range Planning—all making valid and necessary attempts “to pierce the curtain of the future.” But, none of these studies are worth the paper they are written on, or the magnetic disk space they occupy, if they do not result in some concrete, tangible steps we can take today, now, to get us on the road to the future five years, 20 years, 50 years hence.

     Secretary Widnall put it quite precisely yesterday when she said “space is now at the center of our capabilities—at the center of our future plans—at the center of the way the Air Force--and I would say our armed forces--are reshaping themselves for the decades to come.”

     The space community’s growing ‘pride of place’ is clearly the result of the space capabilities--and the recognition of the importance of these space capabilities--delivered daily to the joint warfighter. . . and space’s limitless potential to deliver even more impressive capabilities tomorrow.

     These future capabilities cannot be delivered without a plan to get there. For in the absence of a vision and a finite plan there is no focus. But, we must keep in mind that plans are only guides, and visions are less a matter of content than process.

     By beginning with our short-range plans, we can extrapolate a little further into the future if we want to pursue an evolutionary road to space. Or, we can leap far into the future and ask ourselves why not now?--why not take a revolutionary road to space?

     Both the New Vistas and Space Cast 2020 studies provided us with some revolutionary guidelines in terms of science and technology—the investment, in which, is not only important but essential.

     Investment in key science and technology areas is pivotal to implementing our vision of tomorrow—a vision we derive from conscientiously accomplishing our first and most important duty—continual development and refinement of our long-range plan.

     Science and technology dollars must be made available to deliver the capabilities we need in space tomorrow.

     Again quoting Secretary Widnall, ‘... you find that all issues we are working now intersect at our space-based capabilities, and most important among these, is support for Joint Vision 2010.’ Joint Vision 2010 cannot be implemented without the capabilities space forces bring to the table, and it is the science and technology dollars that will enable us to deliver these space capabilities in the future.

     I am not an expert in all the facets of space science and technology, but it is clear to me that there are at least three key areas where investment is vital.

     First, we need robust, reliable, and affordable access to space. This has been a cornerstone of our S&T investment for a least a decade and it must continue to be so. We must continue to drive the cost of going to space down if we are to reach our vision. . .

     The military investment in this area currently centers on the effort to build an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle. The civil investment centers on NASA’s Reusable Launch Vehicle. The commercial investment is not centered in any particular area, but runs the gamut of light launch vehicles to heavy lift vehicles, and from fixed to mobile launch sites. I applaud and encourage all these efforts. For it is the competition between reusable and expendable--fixed versus mobile--that will help reduce the cost of access to space. If we don’t get this right the “Promise of Space” will not be fulfilled for a long, long time to come.

     Second, we need to develop a capability to protect our huge investment in space from rapidly developing threats, both manmade and natural.

     Today there are will over 500 satellites operating in space, over 220 of which belong to the United States. For us...this represents over a 100 billion dollar investment. Tomorrow....in the next decade...US News and World Report speculates that another 1800 satellites will be added. By the year 2000 alone, another 150 billion dollar investment could be made in space.

     Along with this tremendous growth comes similar growth in systems that can affect the ability of these satellites to perform their stated purposes...from hackers who will infiltrate computer networks to influence satellite commands to electronic jamming to lasers and kinetic energy weapons. There will be numerous ways to impact the satellite constellation of tomorrow. Now is the time to get ready for this threat...we call it space control...and it means just what it says...control space...insure we have access to it and that those who choose to do us harm...do not.

     In addition we need to get a handle on the issue of space debris. I recently read an article by Doctor Robert Kuntz, a space pioneer with over 20 years experience in the space industry, in which he states that “there are over 140,000 objects one centimeter or larger being monitored by the Haystack Radar tracking facility.”

     This is an indictment on our current disregard of the importance of minimizing orbital debris. The irony is quite clear. We must invest already limited resources in reducing a space environment threat, largely created by man, in order to protect our primary investment in space-based capability. This is an almost ridiculous state of affairs that need’s to be corrected soon.

     We also need to understand natural hazards in space in a much more refined way. The space environment is not a friendly place...in fact it is downright hostile. The impact of meteor showers, solar max, radiation belts and cosmic rays on space assets are not fully understood today.

     The third area in which investment is vital is the continued pursuit of our ability to conduct surveillance of both the earth and space...from space.

     In the ancient words of Sun Tzu, the Chinese Warrior Philosopher, ‘to know yourself, and to know your enemy’ is the ultimate indicator of success in battle. Never before in the history of mankind has any nation come closer to actually implementing this philosophy.

     We must not shy away from our duty to make the hard decisions to invest our limited S&T dollars in these key, far-reaching technologies.

     My next point is best illustrated in the history of the Peloponnisian War fought 2400 years ago when Thucydides said: “The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet not withstanding, go out to meet it.”

     We must go out and meet what is before us, and who does this...it is those people in our countries who are modern day pioneers focused on space.

     As a senior space leader, I ask myself a key question nearly everyday: How do I keep the pioneering spirit alive and healthy in our space pioneers?

     As a senior space leader, I ask myself a key question nearly everyday: How do I keep the pioneering spirit alive and healthy in our space pioneers?

      First, we need to be successful in advocating for the resources our people need to do their jobs. To be successful in advocating for the necessary resources, we need to get the message out to the general public regarding the importance of what we do and how successful we’ve been at doing it and what doing it means to the future security, economy, and well-being of our nation. We can’t take for granted America’s appreciation of our successes.

      And, we’ve got to get the word out in a way folks understand. A great success story for all of us here is the Global Positioning System. This system is becoming a routine part of daily life throughout America. But, I’m not exactly sure the message is getting out, even yet.

     During the Gulf War a young soldier got into a debate with some of his contemporaries about the usefulness of tax dollars being spent on space hardware. He was heard to say “I don’t need space, I just need this here plugger thing.”

     Of course, the young soldier was referring to his hand held “Precision Lightweight - Global Positioning System Receiver”—plugger, for short—not knowing for a minute that the signals allowing the device to operate were being transmitted from 11,000 miles above the earth.

     In advocating for the funding and resources necessary for our space pioneering efforts, the Congressmen, the Governors and Mayors, and the American citizenry must have an understanding of what it is we are talking about, what it is we do, and what it means to them.

     Satellite surveillance and communications services are very, very effective contributors to success on the modern battlefield.

     This general understanding will go a long way towards improving the success of our advocacy for a larger share of a shrinking pool of resources.

     A second thing we need to do to nurture the pioneering spirit is to create an environment where our people can strive to reach their full potential—an environment that is tolerant of risk and tolerant of mistakes.

     Trial and error is still alive and well. Though computers are helping to reduce some of the trials and the impact of the some of the errors, it is still the human factor that counts the most.

     A young vice president was appointed by the board of a bank to replace the retiring president and founder. With fear and trepidation, he made an appointment to visit the not-so-happy retiree to seek his advice.

     “Mr. Clark, I need your counsel. How can I possibly be successful in your old job?”

     The elderly man looked over the top of his wire rim glasses. “Young man,” he growled, “these two words are the key to your success—Right Decisions!” “Thank you, sir. But how can I make sure I am making right decisions?”

     “Experience,” the older man gruffly replied. “Experience will insure you make the right decisions.” A long silence followed. “That is helpful,” said the young man, “but how do I get the right experience?”

     The elderly man stood, grasping the hand of the aspiring executive, he looked him directly in the eye, smiled, and responded, “WRONG DECISIONS!”

     If you’re a pioneer, you’re pushing the envelope, and pushing the envelope means mistakes will be made. We, as leaders, must be sensitive to this simple fact.

     Now for the third thing, we have got to continue to improve our working relationships with industry. We’ve had a tendency in the past to work our long-range plans in isolation. We can’t afford that anymore. We have to share information to the maximum extent practical.

     We need to start identifying where trade space is available in key mission areas that have the potential for high payoff in the future.

     If we don’t see where we have trade space, if we don’t see where the opportunities are, if you don’t know where our thoughts are, you will not pursue the technologies that will allow revolutionary instead of evolutionary improvements. We need to work these plans for the future together, government and industry, if we’re going to be successful in recognizing and grasping the opportunities and challenges before us.

     Develop robust capabilities for control of space to both protect and assure our access to and use of space.

     I have to say we’ve made some very positive changes with how we relate to industry, and I am really behind seeing these changes and our relationships with industry evolve further.

     Well, I’ve said a lot in the last few minutes but I wanted you to be clear about where I’m coming from. We share a common objective, a common dream for the future, and it lives in space as surely as it lives inside each of us who strives to realize the “Promise of Space.”

     There is much work to be done and many hard decisions to be made in the coming days and years, but I take comfort and pride in knowing that there is no other nation on earth capable of embarking on a journey as momentous as that of realizing the fullest “Promise of Space.”

     I look forward to working with all of you in bringing our dreams to reality.