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Commercial Space Transportation Conference

Secretary Ray LaHood

“Remarks as Prepared for Delivery”

Commercial Space Transportation Conference

National Housing Center

Wednesday February 6, 2013

  • Hello everyone. It’s great to be here.
  • Thank you, George, for that great introduction – but, more importantly, thank you for the great work you do every day.  We’re very lucky to have you and our outstanding FAA administrator, Michael Huerta, leading our efforts on this.
  • I would also like to recognize the important roles of Michael Gold, the new Chair of the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee, and Michael Lopez-Alegria, [a-LAY-gria] the Committee’s new Vice Chair.
  • And my special thanks must go to Will Trafton, the committee’s outgoing chair. He has had made an outstanding contribution to the committee’s growing success. 
  • Space exploration has long been an American dream. It is the best example of our timeless desire to explore and our need to push the boundaries of what’s possible.
  • Today we are at a pivotal moment in our nation’s long adventure in space—and all of you are playing a critical role.
  • The groundwork we’re doing right now will pave the way for a new form of transportation and tourism.
  • And like all of you, we are very excited to see how space exploration will develop in the years to come.
  • As we move forward, the Department of Transportation will remain committed to supporting your innovations, ensuring safety, and helping you cultivate what could someday be a mainstream transportation mode.     
  • President Obama has often called on us to out-educate, out-innovate, and out-build the rest of the world.  I can’t think of a better example than the commercial space industry.
  • Today, we are seeing the benefits of government and industry working together—and we’re seeing the results of investments in research and production.
  • For instance, SpaceX has flown two FAA-licensed missions to the International Space Station for NASA.
  • And they have successfully returned their Dragon capsule to earth both times.    
  • The FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Center of Excellence continues to make outstanding progress in advancing commercial technologies.
  • We’re working to ensure safety, lower costs, and improve the reliability of commercial space vehicles.
  • Through the Center of Excellence, we have forged partnerships involving universities, faculty and students, research partners, and industry.
  • And we are creating projects that may someday revolutionize our lives here on Earth and beyond.    
  • Of course, we have more work ahead of us.
  • Now is the time to encourage innovation and to explore new ways of working.
  • Now is the time to re-imagine the relationship between government and industry. 
  • With the rapid emergence of new business ventures, and the changing landscape of the commercial space industry, several companies have continued to innovate. 
  • Many of these companies are here with us today:
    • Boeing,
    • Bigelow Aerospace,
    • Orbital Science Corporation,
    • XCOR [ex-core] Aerospace,
    • Sierra Nevada Corporation,
    • SpaceX, and
    • Virgin Galactic.
  • In a particularly innovative effort, NASA has issued awards to three companies for the development of vehicles providing commercial crew transportation services to the International Space Station.  
  • As we look to the future, we find ourselves in an exciting position. Great opportunities lie ahead of the commercial space industry in transport, tourism, and economic development.
  • For instance, with your continued help, commercial space transportation could someday become as routine as flying from LA to New York.
  • Wherever the future takes us, it’s important that we continue to work together.  
  • At DOT and FAA, we will do our part to support industry growth and innovation.  And because safety is our number one priority, we will continue to work with NASA and the private sector to safely and reliably transport people and cargo.
  • Space exploration embodies our collective need to explore the unknown and uncover the next page of history.
  • This is no time to turn our back on the big dreams that make our nation great.
  • Now is the time to double down on our efforts.
  • We can’t look back fifty years from now, and say, “We should have done more.”
  • This is the moment. And we need the best and the brightest—folks like you—to lead the way.
  • Thank you.
Updated: Wednesday, January 7, 2015
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