Letter from Sean O'Keefe to Organizers of Washington Space Policy Debate

Status Report From: NASA HQ
Posted: Thursday, October 14, 2004

Karen Rugg, President
Women in Aerospace
P. O. Box 16721
Alexandria, Virginia 22302

Dear Ms. Rugg,

It is my pleasure to send you greetings from NASA as you gather for this debate on the aerospace platforms of the Presidential candidates. You should be applauded for all that you do to foster the development of women in the aerospace industry.

We are very fortunate to be working together at a time such as this. For decades people called for a national vision for space policy and in January of this year President Bush outlined a very clear and compelling space agenda. The President then followed through in his FY 2005 budget request to provide the funds needed for the first steps of this journey which is crucial to America’s national interests.

In June, the Vice President received the report of the Presidential Commission on Implementation of U.S. Space Policy. The Commission highlighted the importance of the Vision to America’s future. They stated: “the long-term, ambitious space agenda advanced by the President for robotic and human exploration will significantly help the United States protect its technological leadership, economic vitality, and security.” The Vice President was impressed by the work of the Commission and the Commission’s recommendations for Vision implementation. These recommendations now guide NASA’s implementation of the Vision.

Since the announcement of the Vision, I have regularly briefed the President and Vice President on NASA’s progress in its implementation. The President has provided the leadership essential to set our Nation on a course for a bold future in space. Now it is up to us in the aerospace community to make this Vision a reality.

We at NASA are working hard to achieve the first milestones of the Vision. Our efforts cover the spectrum of Vision activities, including preparations for Space Shuttle Return to Flight based on the recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board; continued ISS on orbit operations and research, and planning for completion of assembly by the ISS partnership; sustained operations of Spirit and Opportunity on Mars; and continued mission achievements from Hubble, Spitzer, and Cassini.

Most importantly, the work on these and other programs is now part of an integrated plan of Vision implementation. NASA is seeking out new ideas and new ways of doing business. For example: NASA has awarded study contracts under Project Constellation for the new Crew Exploration Vehicle and Lunar Exploration concepts to 11 teams that represent a broad cross section of established corporations, small businesses, and academic institutions; under Project Prometheus NASA is funding a technology demonstrator mission to develop nuclear power and propulsion generation capacities; NASA has received 3,700 responses to just one solicitation seeking proposals for innovative technologies that will advance human and robotic exploration; we have issued Requests for Information seeking ideas for space operations, space transportation, potential transformation of NASA centers, expanded use of NASA contractual authority and new relationships with the education community; and a complete transformation of the NASA organization was implemented on August 1, 2004, streamlining the organization to provide for more nimble policy/program execution.

The President has provided leadership and a compelling Vision. Now we must work in the aerospace community to meet the challenges laid forth in achieving these noble and worthwhile objectives. NASA looks forward to working with you to achieve the Vision’s fundamental goal: “to advance U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests through a robust space exploration program.”


Sean O’Keefe

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