Remarks by Patricia Grace Smith
Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration
before the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee
at the Bessie Coleman Conference Center, FAA Headquarters
Washington, DC, October 18, 2001

Thank you, Livingston. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It’s good to see all of you at this, the 34th meeting of the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee. This is a very different environment in which we meet today. The events of the last six weeks have profoundly affected our nation and our people.

We have all experienced a variety of intense emotions – disbelief, horror, sadness, anger, resolve. We will remember for a lifetime where we were, thankful for where we were not, on that dreaded September 11th day. Let us pause and reflect for a moment, each in his own way, on these events, on those who lost their lives, and on the brave men and women of our armed forces in southwest Asia seeking to make sure these kinds of things never happen again. ----

Thank you. And as the President and others have said, we must also get on with our lives and the business of our country. So we get down to the business of the COMSTAC. I want to thank all of you once again for the contribution this organization – you – make in providing insight to those of us in government with oversight of commercial space activity.

As such, I want to make you aware of a new initiative that arises specifically from the terrible recent events. Those attacks demonstrated to the world the devastating impact such incidents can have on nations and industries. It raises, of course, the specter of potential attacks or sabotage committed against launch sites, vehicles or assets and the consequences which could arise in terms of death, destruction and long term interests, most especially denial of assured access to space.

In response to this heightened awareness of the potential threat to our industry and infrastructure, I have created a Work Group within AST to examine the issue of security as it relates to commercial launch sites and launch operations. Our initial focus will be on security concerns related to FAA-licensed launch sites and operations. Obviously, with our major launch facilities located on Air Force installations, physical security is a foregone conclusion, but have we in fact considered and addressed all possible avenues for thwarting our security measures? There is also the issue of security for current and future launch and reentry sites that are not on federal facilities.

After all, the September 11 terrorists were able to carry out their evil scheme by very mundane if unimagined means.

But beyond addressing our domestic concerns, I intend to raise the issue of space transportation security on the international scene. With the global reach inherent in space operations, it is easy to see that a security failure at one launch site or launch event could have serious consequences for others far removed from the actual incident. It is important, therefore, to consider launch security in an international context.

Fortunately, AST is now better equipped to undertake this kind of broad reaching task than at any time before in its history. When I last addressed you in May, I told you that we were engaged in an aggressive recruitment effort to bring our staffing and expertise to the level called for in our increased appropriation for the fiscal year just ended. We have been very successful in this recruitment, bringing aboard a diverse, highly talented and capable group of people that will ensure AST’s ability to carry out its responsibilities to the commercial space industry and promote our international competitiveness in the future, with greater consistency given the redundancy this has allowed us to build into our staffing.

At that time, I told you about the new division we had created, the Systems Engineering and Training Division, and introduced you to our newest division manager, Hugh Cook. I explained Hugh brings over 19 years of extensive experience in the launch services industry. This includes serving as Principal Engineer for Ordinance and Solid Rocket Motors for General Dynamics Corporation, Director of Space Systems Programs for EER Systems and most recently as Director of Launch Operations and Engineering for Beal Aerospace.

At this time I would like to ask Hugh to come up and tell COMSTAC something of the role the Systems Engineering and Training Division he is developing will play within AST. (Following Mr. Cook’s remarks, members of his division introduced themselves and described their areas of expertise)

I hope this gives you a feel for how we are building an organization for the future that will be ready for the dynamic and diverse commercial space transportation industry we see emerging in the coming years. (At Ms. Smith’s request, other new employees introduced themselves and described their areas of expertise)

Before touching on the day’s agenda, I would like to remind everyone here that we are continuing to work with our partners in the interagency community to implement the strategy recommended by the White House led IWG on the future use and management of the spacelift ranges. FAA, Department of Commerce, and the Air Force have just completed finalizing an agreement and process for collecting and communicating commercial requirements pertaining to range operations and improvements. The process for submitting commercial requirements to DOT and DOC for transmission to the DOD will appear in the Federal Register shortly. The establishment and execution of this process was a desired outcome associated with the recommendation to provide a greater user voice in decisions associated with range operations and improvements. I appeal to you to be active and take advantage of this opportunity to have your collective voice heard with the goal of seeing the kind of support and improvements that you need become manifest at the ranges.

At this point I had hoped to introduce DOT Secretary Norman Mineta for some get-acquainted remarks, but I know you are aware of the major role he is playing in the aftermath of recent events and the changes that are coming with them. He is otherwise engaged this morning and cannot be with us.

In another change from our preliminary agenda, we had expected to have Eric Sterner, Staff Director of the House Science Committee’s space and aeronautics subcommittee as part of the legislative briefing team, but just last week Eric left the Hill to take an important assignment at the Pentagon as Special Advisor to J.D. Crouch, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. Jean Toal Eisen, Majority Professional Staff Member of our Senate subcommittee of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, will join us for some remarks.

Others you will hear from include Ken Gordon, who you probably remember as a Hill staff member who has appeared before COMSTAC in that role in the past. He comes before you today wearing his new hat as Special Assistant to another old friend, the Honorable Edward C. “Pete” Aldridge, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. Ken will tell us about changes in acquisition policy and practices in the Rumsfeld Pentagon.

John Vinter, your fellow COMSTAC member and President and CEO of International Space Brokers, Inc., will brief you on developments in the liability and financial responsibility area. COMSTAC member Janet Sadler will also share her perspective on this topic. AST’s Mike Dook will update you on the continuing evolution of the FAA’s new launch rule, that is on target and is of great interest to everyone. We will take a short break after that and return for Working Group Reports.

John Vinter will return to the microphone in his role as Chairman of the Risk Management Working Group. Bob Cowls of Boeing, Chairman of the Technology and Innovation Working Group, will report on the deliberation of his group. We regret that Mike Kelly, Chairman of Kelly Space and Technology and of the Reusable Launch Vehicles Working Group will not be with us. Paul Birkland will give the Working Group report. Darren Buck of United Space Alliance will give the report of the Safety Subgroup of the Launch Operations and Support Working Group.

Our Chairman, Livingston Holder, will finish up with new business and the wrap-up. Just two final items. One, we are in the process of organizing our Fifth Annual Commercial Space Transportation Forecast Conference, which will be held February 5 and 6, 2002, at the Crystal City Hyatt Regency Hotel just across the river and very near Reagan National Airport. We are planning for another interesting, exciting and convivial program featuring some of the outstanding leaders of the space community. Bob Walker, recently named by President Bush to be Chairman of the new Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry will be a featured speaker and we expect to have Congressman Sherwood Boehlert, Chairman of the House Committee on Science join us once again, as well as panel presentations on issues of interest to all of us. Be sure to mark your calendars now. Two, please don’t forget to get your specific comments in on the indemnification study we are producing at the request of Congress.

I again want to thank you all for making the time and effort to be here during these challenging times.