Space: Building the Future Today
Julie Sattler, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Vice President and General Manager, Special Programs. Image courtesy the U.S. State Department
Remarks by Julie Sattler
United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space
Space: Building the Future Today
Vienna Austria, June 12, 2013
Members of the committee and fellow panelists, I am honored to be with you today and to represent the United States.
It’s very humbling to be part of this event, and to be among so many accomplished women from throughout the space sector and representing various nations.
What an extraordinary opportunity to be able to hear from Valentina Tereshkova and to commemorate the 50th anniversary of her history-making space flight.
Valentina, you are a true pioneer. Your historic mission into space helped blaze a trail for many other women from around the world who would follow your lead in pursuing careers in the space industry and making vital contributions to humanity. In fact, I am one who has benefited from the impact you made, an impact that is still reverberating today.
Women are playing an increasing role in shaping the direction of companies in the space industry. Space has inspired people for decades, providing an internal drive to explore and challenge ourselves to expand our boundaries and enhance our knowledge. Women are found throughout our industry, leading and shaping that exploration. At Lockheed Martin, Marillyn Hewson became our first woman CEO and President this past January. To add to that, four of our five business units are headed by women.
It’s the past, present and future of the industry that I want to address today, reflecting on the collective progress we have made, and then vector for the future.
The history of space exploration has been thrilling and dramatic – marked at times by peril and tragedy, but also punctuated by breathtaking accomplishments that have inspired us and left us in awe of humanity’s capacity to explore, discover and achieve what was previously thought impossible.
We’ve seen earth orbits, lunar landings and exploration of our solar system by robotic probes. We’ve seen striking images of distant stars and galaxies captured by space telescopes that yield clues to the origin of our universe and that captivate us with the wonder and beauty of the cosmos.
Decades of space development have generated staggering gains in technology, global communications and navigation, weather forecasting, medicine and materials and have made a significant impact on economics, education, scientific knowledge and international relations.
And all of this was driven by private industry working in concert with national governments. It involved casting and sustaining great visions, engaging the imagination, navigating budgetary and political challenges and maintaining perseverance in the face of all manner of setbacks.
It took skill, dedication, resilience and conviction. Qualities that we’ll need to build the future of space.
Today, we see proof of major developments that underscore the industry’s dramatic evolution and progress from its earlier days.
Many nations and new companies are embracing the vision of space. Even smaller nations who do not yet have their own organic space industry are interested in buying space assets and developing their indigenous capabilities. Space has truly become a global enterprise.
One major development we’ve seen from the early days to now is the growth and impact of global navigation in many areas of life. Global navigation affects transportation, financial transactions and even farming. It is pervasive.
One other big development playing out even now is the entry of commercial players into the space market.
Commercial satellite communications and environmental sensing have become big businesses globally. We’re even seeing commercialization in the space transportation sector, with newer companies seeking to gain traction.
Space has provided opportunities for international cooperation. The International Space Station illustrates that point. The ISS brought us not only scientific advances but political and cultural ones, as well.
There is one common theme to these capabilities – the need for mission success.
So, where are we headed? In keeping with our theme, industry is engaged to create tomorrow today. But the road to that destination is a challenging one.
Due to the ongoing global economic situation, nations continue to experience budget constraints, which affect space investment.
Combined with that, competition is increasing as more players enter the market. But this competition, combined with national budget limitations, is necessitating greater innovation and spurring affordability gains.
Companies are focused more relentlessly on cost, value, reliability, performance and relevance. To the extent this plays out, industry can only become more disciplined, and customers will get greater value.
The economic climate is helping drive increased partnerships and collaboration among nations in an effort to share and drive down costs and to realize economies of scale.
Governments are working to reduce economic and political barriers, making it easier to conduct international business and enable technology transfer.
Companies are building a greater in-country presence in those nations where they seek to do business. This enables them to build strong working relationships and to better understand their customers’ unique mission requirements and budget parameters.
As an example of international partnership, NASA and the European Space Agency are teaming up on the development of the Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle, which Lockheed Martin is developing to take future astronauts beyond low-earth orbit and onto Mars.
Last December, NASA signed an agreement for ESA to provide Orion’s service module, which fuels and propels the capsule.
The bulk of global economic growth in the space industry is concentrated in developing nations, who are putting more emphasis in space to build their economic capacity, realize greater independence and shape their destiny.
Several developing countries have achieved advanced space capabilities, and many more are likely to make significant progress over the next five to 10 years.
This reality is driving opportunity in the international marketplace.
The need for connectivity is only intensifying as cell phones, tablets and other mobile devices continue to proliferate. Space is crucial for meeting this voracious demand.
Environmental sensing and small communications satellites are technological entry points for developing countries.
Technological advances in small satellites are allowing more nations to develop their own satellites, while more complex payloads often still require external partners.
Demand for satellite communications continues to grow. Regions with large populations and growing economies are expanding use of satellites for television and Internet use.
Satellite communications also connects individuals and nations in remote, low-infrastructure regions.
Overall, there is significant regional and international cooperation in the civil space area. It’s a key catalyst for cross-government collaboration and information sharing.
I’d like to shift briefly to something that is critical for the future of our industry. And that is building the future workforce. It is something that industry is concerned about and is taking a more active role to address.
If we are to continue to make great advances in space, we must reach, inspire and develop tomorrow’s engineers, scientists and innovators.
Aerospace companies in the United States, for example, are engaging with schools, universities and educators. We are sending engineers into the classroom, providing teachers with resources and industry access to shape curriculum improvements and offering hands-on, interactive events for students to bring math and science to life.
Space is still a source of inspiration for young people. We must continue to leverage the appeal of space to help them see how the industry can offer the potential of a personally rewarding career that affords opportunities to work on potentially life-changing technologies.
In closing, industry is adapting to global market realities to ensure we can continue to work closely with governments and other customers around the world to meet their space exploration needs.
We explore space because it opens up so many possibilities on so many fronts, from science and technology to education and international relations. Space pioneers like Valentina realized this and inspire us today to continue to strive to realize the vision.
In the future, we must not lose sight of this vision, even as nations around the world contend with budget constraints that might make it tempting to cut space investment.
But ultimately and fundamentally, we explore because it is inherent in who we are. The impulse to explore, to discover and to create something new traces back to the beginning of the human race. To draw back on space exploration is to deny who we are, and who we still could become.