Remarks by Vice President Harris at a Meeting of the U.S. National Space Council

Andrew Mellon Auditorium
Washington, D.C.

2:09 P.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Good afternoon.

And I want to thank Colonel Hansen for the introduction and also for his work.  Colonel, it was a pleasure to visit with you and — and the other Artemis 2 astronauts, along with your families, last week in my office in the White House.

And through your courage, Colonel and all of the astronauts, and your determination and incredible skill, you and all the Artemis astronauts are helping to lead our nation and the world back to the Moon.

And today, on the fourth anniversary of the establishment of the United States Space Force, I will recognize the Guardians — (applause) — who are with us.  I’d like you to stand, please, so we can applaud you.  (Applause.) 

Oh, look, there we are.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

Thank you each and all of you collectively for the work that you do.  You make our nation so proud.  And thank you for your service.

So, with that, welcome, everyone, to the third convening of our National Space Council, including the members of our administration, the private-sector leaders who are here, and, of course, our international partners. 

The mission of the National Space Council is to preserve and advance America’s leadership in space.  For generations, our nation has led the world in the exploration and use of space.

And in the coming years, one of the primary ways we will continue to extend that leadership is by strengthening our international partnerships, combining our resources, scientific capacity, and technical skill with that of our allies and partners around the world, all in furtherance of our collective vision.

Here today are representatives from 33 nations, longstanding and new partners all committed to work together in pursuit of shared priorities.

And today, then, I will discuss three of those priorities for space: tackling the climate crisis, establishing new international rules and norms, and advancing human space exploration.

On the issue of the climate crisis, earlier this month, I was with many of you where I represented the United States at COP28.  There, I declared nations must work together with more ambition and urgency to protect our world from climate disaster and to advance climate action.

Here, I will add that, to that end, we must also work together in space.

Today, citizens, scientists, and policymakers around the world rely on images and data collected in space to help fight against the climate crisis, to track deforestation, to predict the path of hurricanes and wildfires, to measure greenhouse gas emissions, and to help reduce pollution.

As part of this work, earlier this year, I received a briefing at NASA Goddard on the innovative partnership we have with South Korea and the European Union to use satellites to track global air quality.

However, in that briefing, I noticed a gap during the presentation: the Southern Hemisphere.  It wasn’t covered.  The result, of course, being that policymakers and public health officials across South America and the continent of Africa may not have access, then, to important data to issue, for example, air quality warnings, to draft clean air laws, to hold polluters accountable.

So, to fix this problem, we worked with our partners at the Italian Space Agency.  And next year, we will launch a satellite to collect air pollution data across the Southern Hemisphere, data that invariably will help hundreds of millions of people.

Global collaboration to take on global challenges.

My second area of focus today is the need to establish and strengthen international rules and norms for the peaceful and responsible use of space — common understandings of what is permissible and what is not.

President Biden and I are deeply committed to preserve and strengthen the longstanding rules and norms that promote global stability: principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and freedom of navigation.

We are also committed to establish new standards to meet the challenges of the 21st century — in particular, in areas such as AI, cybersecurity, and, of course, space — to promote stability, sustainability, prosperity, and peace.

Last year, I issued a global challenge for all nations to join our commitment not to conduct destructive, direct-ascent anti-satellite missile testing.  Since then, 36 other nations have joined us, and I continue to urge more nations to do the same.

Together, with our international partners, the United States also led the development of the Artemis Accords to establish clear norms for civil space exploration.

Since the last meeting of our council, 12 more nations have signed on, bringing the total number to 33, all of whom are represented here today.

Finally, last year, I announced that the United States would develop the first regulatory framework for novel commercial space activities.  And today, then, we release that framework which consists of both executive action and legislation that we recently sent to the United States Congress.

This, I believe, is one of the most significant steps we have taken to shape the future of the commercial space industry.

President Biden and I are committed to establishing rules for commercial space activities that are strong enough to promote the safe and predictable use of space but flexible enough to ensure that we do not stifle innovation.  We intend that these domestic rules will serve as a model for global action.

Finally, regarding the importance of international collaboration on human space exploration: The Artemis program is the most ambitious space exploration effort in generations.  For the first time in more than half a century, the United States will return astronauts to the lunar surface.  We will establish the first lunar base camp and the first station in lunar orbit — all of this in collaboration with our allies and partners.

For example, the service module that will help carry Artemis astronauts to the Moon was built by the European Space Agency.  And Europe, Japan, and Canada will make significant contributions to the lunar space station.

Today, in recognition of the essential role that our allies and partners play in the Artemis program, I am proud, then, to announce that alongside American astronauts, we intend to land an international astronaut on the surface of the Moon by the end of the decade.

This announcement and this meeting of our National Space Council is further demonstration of our belief in the critical importance of international partnership.

So, now, before I turn to my National Security Advisor, Dr. Phil Gordon, to moderate this meeting, I will conclude with this. 

I believe we are all here together because we agree space is a place of extraordinary opportunity.  So, our task, dare I say our duty, as nations must be to work together to make that opportunity real and to preserve it for future generations.

May God bless you all.  And may God bless the United States of America.  Thank you.  (Applause.)    

                               END                 2:19 P.M. EST

Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2023/12/20/remarks-by-vice-president-harris-at-a-meeting-of-the-u-s-national-space-council/

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