Remarks on Signing an Executive Order on Commercial Expendable Launch Vehicle Activities

February 24, 1984

Thank all of you for being here, and welcome to the White House. George and I were both a little astonished at the new decorations, but certainly they're in keeping. [Laughter] You see, we even provide the atmosphere for the occasion.\1\ (FOOTNOTE)

(FOOTNOTE) \1\Behind the President and Vice President was a large picture of the Earth as it appears from space and several small models of U.S. rockets.

But it is space that brings us here today. And on the way over, I was thinking back to how thrilled we all were when men first walked on the Moon. For thousands of years when people gazed into the night sky, they looked at the Moon with wonder. The Moon controlled the ocean tides; it lighted the fields at harvest times, exerted an irresistable pull on the human imagination -- and I won't go into some of the more exotic ideas that had to do with the Moon. [Laughter]

When an American spaceship landed on the Moon, the moment represented centuries of advances in navigation and exploration. It seemed the crowning achievement of human ingenuity and courage. And today we know that that first landing on the Moon was not just a crowning achievement but a great beginning. The dream of regular space travel, the use of space to enrich life on Earth is becoming a reality, a working part of our everyday lives.

Five centuries ago, America was the new world. Today space is the new world. And just as Columbus' discovery marked the beginning of growing ties between the old world and the new, we're beginning to create more and more ties between Planet Earth and outer space.

Our approach to space has three elements. First, we're determined to put a permanently manned space station into orbit and to do so within a decade. The space station will serve as a base for a wide range of scientific research and industrial work, and it will point the way to further goals.

Second, we're committed to ongoing international cooperation, long a principle of the American space program. Last year, for example, we celebrated the tricentennial of the first German immigration to America with a joint American-German space project. And such cooperation will grow in importance as more and more activities take place in space.

Third, we're doing all we can to encourage space work by American industry. Private enterprise made America great. And if our efforts in space are to show the same energy, imagination, and daring as those in our country, we must involve private enterprise to the full. And that's where today's important event comes in.

Elizabeth Dole, when I sign this Executive order, your Department of Transportation will become the Government agency with primary responsibility for expendable launched vehicles, or ELV's, the powerful rockets that carry satellites into orbit. The Executive order directs the Department to encourage, facilitate, and coordinate the development of commercial expendable launch vehicle operations by private American enterprise.

Until today, private industries interested in ELV's have had to deal with 17 Government agencies. From now on, they'll only have to get in touch with the Department of Transportation, and the Department will clear away what Secretary Dole has called ``the thicket of clearances, licenses, and regulations that keep industrial space vehicles tethered to their pads.'' With Elizabeth and her team in charge, private enterprises interested in space won't see redtape; they'll see blue sky.

As private concerns begin to supply and launch ELV's, we'll see a vital new industry take shape. The new space industry will foster the launching of telecommunications satellites, and there satellites will expand TV coverage and improve telephone and data transmission around the world. The space industry will help us to take the first steps toward processing materials at zero gravity, and this could open dramatic new possibilities for producing alloys and crystals. And producing compounds in zero gravity could increase their purity by 5 or 10 times and drastically reduce the cost of many pharmaceuticals, an exciting new opportunity for medicine.

Perhaps most important, the new space industry will launch satellites with capabilities for remote sensing. These satellites can look down on Earth the way a plane pilot looks down on a neighborhood. They'll help us identify the sources of water and air pollution, forecast crop growth, measure and guard against insect infestation, assist in mineral exploration and land use management, and monitor weather conditions both on land and at sea -- all saving countless dollars and untold lives.

I want to thank everyone here, for you've all had a hand in supporting this Executive order. And I know that you'll take a keen interest as American private enterprise literally blasts off.

By working to expand our involvement in space, we'll enhance life on this beautiful blue and green globe called Earth. So, I thank you, and God bless all of you for all that you've helped accomplish.

And I shall now sign the Executive order.

Note: The President spoke at 10:48 a.m. in the East Room at the White House.