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October 29, 1998

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I can think of no better way to celebrate NASA's 40th Anniversary than to come here today and witness, along with each of you, history in the making. With the return of John Glenn to space, NASA has reignited the sense of excitement and national purpose that is so much a part of our space program.

President Bill Clinton
October 29, 1998

Today, President Clinton will be at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to view the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery, which will take Senator John Glenn and six crewmates into space for an almost nine day mission, during which time the crew will conduct more than 80 scientific experiments ranging from the inner realm of the human body to the study of the Sun and solar activity.

The President Salutes Senator Glenn's Leadership And Courage. More than thirty-six years ago, Senator John Glenn made history when he became the first American to orbit the Earth, and today, he will return to space as part of a multi-national crew with the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery. This mission will accumulate valuable scientific data, and Senator Glenn will be a test subject for specific investigations which mimic the effect of aging, including the loss of muscle mass and bone density, a depressed immune system, and the loss of balance. As he returns to space, Senator Glenn, who inspired many current astronauts to pursue space flight as a career, continues to inspire people of all generations with this flight.

President Clinton Has Helped Transform The U.S. Space Program. Over the past six years, the Clinton Administration has established and implemented a series of space policies to address a broad range of civil, national security, and commercial activities. These policies are based on the cumulative experience of the United States in space, they recognize the current domestic and international environments—most importantly, the end of the Cold War—and they reflect the growing maturity of U.S. government, commercial, and international space capabilities. America's space program enhances our knowledge of the Earth, solar system, and universe through human and robotic exploration; strengthens national security; enhances the economic competitiveness and scientific and technical capabilities of the United States; and promotes international cooperation to further U.S. domestic, national security, and foreign policies.

A Strong Record Of Accomplishment. America's accomplishments in space under the Clinton Administration span a range of civil, commercial, and national security programs that support hundreds of thousands of high-tech, high-wage jobs across the country. Specific highlights of U.S. space accomplishments under President Clinton include:

  • The International Space Station. Under President Clinton's leadership, NASA is now leading a 15-nation partnership to build an International Space Station. Since the Administration's redesign of the space station in 1993, the U.S. and its foreign partners have built over 400,000 pounds of flight hardware and the first elements are scheduled for launch and assembly in orbit this November and December;
  • Space Science. Under this Administration, Americans and people the world over have been astounded by Hubble Space Telescope images; Mars Pathfinder's successful landing on Mars; Lunar Prospector's discovery of ice on the moon, Galileo's detection of possible subterranean oceans on Jupiter's moon, Europa; and scientific evidence of planets around other stars in our galaxy. NASA has revolutionized space exploration by replacing large, complex spacecraft with smaller, faster, cheaper ones that have cut average development costs by more than half while almost doubling the number and frequency of space science missions;
  • Space Transportation. In 1994, the Clinton Administration announced a strategy to pursue low-cost access to space. In October 1998, government and industry announced the design, along with government contracts and private investment, to develop and fly two families of Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELV's) that may reduce launch costs by 25 to 50 percent over the next 20 years, facilitating access to space for both commercial and government payloads well into the next century. NASA is also developing, in partnership with industry, revolutionary new technologies for next generation reusable launch systems that promise to reduce costs by a factor of ten within ten years. The first of these test vehicles, X-33 and X-34, are scheduled for flight tests next year;
  • Exploring Planet Earth. President Clinton has continued to support government efforts to develop and operate new tools, including NASA's and NOAA's satellite missions, which allow us to better understand weather patterns, droughts, floods, violent storms, and other phenomena, including El Nino and variations in the ozone hole over Antarctica;
  • The United States Global Positioning System (GPS). In March 1996, the President announced a new policy for the use and management of GPS, a service that is offered free of charge to U.S. allied and military forces and civilian users all over the world. GPS offers a wide range of important applications in areas such as navigation, global change research, and mapping. As demand grows for GPS services among civil users, the Administration is devising a way to ensure adequate civil access to GPS while protecting precise positioning service for authorized military users.

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October 29, 1998