Nearly two hundred years after President Jefferson chose Lewis and Clark to explore the vast Louisiana Purchase lands extending to the Pacific, and nearly 100 years after the Wright brothers conducted the first powered flight on a strip of Atlantic beach, the spirit of exploration, discovery, and invention is reaching ever farther into the new ocean of space.

And the United States of America, through NASA, proudly leads the way.

I am honored at this time in our country’s history to lead America’s civil aeronautics and space research efforts. Building on an extraordinary record of accomplishment, the people of NASA continue to develop revolutionary technologies needed to understand and protect our home planet and explore the universe. These technologies are helping NASA pioneer the future on a daily basis as we improve aviation safety and efficiency, probe more deeply into the mysteries of the universe, learn how to propel robotic emissaries more swiftly throughout the solar system, and work to better understand the dynamics of Earth’s climatic system.

NASA Administrator Sean O Keefe

Our showcase project is the International Space Station, a permanently crewed research outpost in near-Earth orbit. Based on promising experiments already underway, Space Station research will significantly advance basic science, enable applications beneficial to millions of people, and enhance our ability to send explorers to other planets. Further, the drama of seeing astronauts living and working 24/7 on the Space Station will no doubt capture the imagination of students of all ages and motivate them to excel in subjects that will help them to become the next generation of explorers.

I am similarly proud of NASA’s longstanding role as an agent of invention and technological progress in our society. In 2002, NASA marks the 40th anniversary of the Technology Utilization Program, established under congressional mandate to promote the transfer of aerospace technology to the private sector. The program has been highly successful. Through NASA’s efforts and those of innovative entrepreneurs, thousands of “spinoff” products and processes have been derived from NASA-developed technology. Collectively, they represent an immense contribution to the Nation’s economy.

As NASA’s research and development activities expand to meet the demands of our ambitious aeronautical and space research goals, the possibilities of applying technology to improve people’s lives continue to grow. In one key area, medical research, NASA is teaming up with the National Cancer Institute to develop new biomedical technologies for cancer detection, diagnosis, and treatment, and with the Biotechnology Industry Organization to expand space-based biotechnology research and development activities. Millions of people promise to benefit from these important partnerships.

With compelling research like this, and with each scientific discovery, telescope image, launch, patent, and newly inspired child, the pursuit of NASA’s new vision for the future—to improve life here, to extend life to there, and to find life beyond—will continue, I trust, to engage the public in an adventure without end.

Sean O’Keefe
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

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