Washington, DC - Remarks by Vice President Pence at Meeting with NASA Senior Leadership:

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you.  Thank you, Administrator Bridenstine.  Thank you to our new CFO.  It is a great privilege for me to be here today on a special occasion — a swearing-in of NASA’s new Administrator.  But I am also very much looking forward to have an opportunity to be with the senior leadership of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

I think you all know, after a lifetime of service in and around America’s space program, just how much the American people admire NASA.  And that is a reflection of the character and the caliber of the leadership assembled here.  And so give yourselves a round of applause.  We are so proud of NASA and (inaudible).  (Applause.)

And I bring the greetings, and the gratitude, and the admiration of the 45th President of the United States, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

The President asked me to be here to get this new Administrator sworn-in — (laughter) — so he can get to work.  And in fact, just to show you the level of enthusiasm this President has for this program — while Jim and I will be meeting briefly after we have a chance to speak to the leaders of NASA’s five Mission Directorates, today — the President wanted the new Administrator of NASA in the Oval Office before dinner tonight because we are renewing American leadership in space.  And we’re excited about this new Administrator’s role and the background that he brings to this.

I do just want to say thank you to each and every one of you for the leadership that you provide to thousands of employees that you lead and the work that they do every day.  Not only here at headquarters but, as I look out at this big screen — Armstrong Flight Research Center, down at Johnson, at Goddard.  All these names are legendary; all of you do a phenomenal job leading 20 centers and facilities, 13 states, and 2 foreign nations.  I want you to know, the President and I, all the members of the National Space Council are grateful for the leadership that you provide.

I would say to all of you though, that at — when the President made the decision to reconstitute the National Space Council, it was all about saying, after it had lain dormant for a generation, that it’s time for us to think in new, and renewed, and fresh ways about American leadership in space.

We believe the opportunities and challenges today are evolving at an unprecedented pace, but they open up tremendous opportunities for American innovation and American leadership that will advance our prosperity, advance our security and ultimately — what the President really believes, and I do as well — that NASA plays a critical role in giving expression to that pioneering spirit that is at the very heart of what it is to be an American.

And so, in the years ahead, we’re going to be focusing on all of those aspects of how can we redouble our commitment to the leadership here at NASA.  Also, how can we work to create new partnerships to capture and encourage private sector innovation and ingenuity, even all the while never losing sight of the fact that the security of our nation depends on our security in space as well.

So it’s about human space exploration.  It’s about NASA being in the lead.  But it’s also about clearing the way, as the National Space Council has sought to do, for more capital investment, more private investment, and more innovation from our burgeoning commercial space industry.

Now President Trump’s vision, I would share with all the leadership gathered here today, is very clear.  And that is that the United States will retain and expand our rightful role as the world’s premier space-faring nation.

To do this, we have a purpose now to send — with renewed energy — send Americans back to the moon; establish a capacity there with international and commercial partners to send astronauts to Mars.  We want to reform outdated and burdensome structures and regulations, to encourage pioneering space companies to grow in and beyond low-Earth orbit.  And we want to develop the space technology that protects our national security.  All of those are central to the mission of NASA.  And I can tell you, your new administrator and this leadership team, I know, will be working diligently to make that a reality.

Let me just say, on a personal level, it’s a particular joy for me to have this — the opportunity to serve as Chairman of the National Space Council.  And some of the most vivid memories of my youth were sitting in front of a black-and-white television in the basement of our home watching history unfold.

NASA was a part, now, for six decades of firing the imagination of the American people, inspiring our country.  You all are a part of that legacy, and so you have our thanks.  But I want to assure you that from President Trump, to myself, to our entire administration, we are absolutely determined to see to it that the best days for American leadership in space are yet to come.

So thanks for all you’ve done to make that a reality now for nearly six decades.  And God bless you in the roles that you play as you continue to lead this vital agency with this new leadership team into a brighter future.  So thank you very much.