Remarks by Vice President Harris and President Yoon Suk Yeol of the Republic of Korea During a Visit to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Goddard Space Flight Center
3:56 P.M. EDT
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Good afternoon. NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, thank you for welcoming us once again and hosting us. Astronaut Jonny Kim, who was here earlier — Jonny, I want to thank you and all of the Korean American NASA experts and all of the experts who work here for the work you do every day.
President Yoon, welcome to the United States. It is good to see you again. I thank you for the warm welcome you showed me when I was in Seoul. And I welcome you, on behalf of the United States, to Goddard, a place of great pride for us as Americans. And the work that is happening here through NASA is always awe-inspiring for me, and I hope you have enjoyed the tour we’ve had today.
During my visit to Seoul as well as the state visit, you and I and the President — our countries are demonstrating the expansive agenda between our two nations. And we are demonstrating yet once again that our alliance is truly a global one.
Our alliance is leading on some of the most important and pressing issues of our time.
In Seoul, you and I spoke, for example, about our collective defense in the face of aggression and provocation in the region. We spoke about standing up for the international rules-based order. And we strategized on our work together to address the climate crisis, economic security, and advanced technologies for our two nations. And we consulted, of course, on our cooperation in space, which you and I are both quite enthusiastic about.
This year, we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the alliance between the United States and South Korea, which has been a linchpin of security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and around the world.
As part of this state visit, our administration looks forward to strengthening our alliance. And so today, we focus on one component of our alliance in a particular: space, understanding the connection to our shared priorities on the issues of security and prosperity for our nations.
In our last meeting together, Mr. President, we agreed that we would strengthen our partnership on space. And to that end, earlier today, our governments signed a joint statement to strengthen that cooperation.
With regard to this afternoon here at Goddard, we discussed our cooperation on the issue of space exploration.
Notably, last year, South Korea placed a satellite in lunar orbit that carries a high-resolution camera from NASA and will continue to work to search for water on the moon.
South Korea will soon fly payloads through NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program. I like to think of it as our version of a ride-share program for space exploration.
And in the future, we look forward to expanding our collaboration on the Artemis program, which will return astronauts to the moon for the first time in 50 years and lay the groundwork for our mission to Mars.
With regard to the climate crisis, we agree the climate crisis poses an existential threat to our world. And to meet this threat, we must partner together to use satellite technology to monitor the impacts of that crisis on Earth.
As one example, together, our nations have built and placed satellites in orbit that can track air pollution in North America and Asia.
Today, I have also directed the National Space Council, which I lead, to expand this network to ensure that it also covers the southern hemisphere, specifically the continent of Africa and South America. This cannot be a global initiative if any nations around the world are excluded.
President Yoon, as you establish a national space agency, we look forward to continuing our priority on this very important issue of addressing the climate crisis. And finally, regarding our work on space, our two nations are also working to establish international rules and norms for the peaceful and responsible use of space.
One year ago, I issued a challenge to all nations to join our commitment that I made on behalf of the United States to not conduct destructive direct-ascent anti-satellite missile testing.
You and I discussed this topic during our meeting last year in Seoul. And following that, you joined our commitment.
In fact, I’m pleased to report that, thus far, 155 nations have supported this effort at the United Nations.
We are also grateful for South Korea’s signing of the Artemis Accords, which will help create a safe and transparent environment for the civil use of space.
So I’ll conclude by saying to — again, we renew our commitment to strengthen our cooperation in the next frontier of our expanding alliance. And, of course, that is space.
Space presents undiscovered and unrealized opportunity for our nations and for the entire world. Our task is to work together to guide humanity forward safely, sustainably, and peacefully into this new frontier.
In this mission, the United States is very proud to work with South Korea.
Thank you, Mr. President. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT YOON: (As interpreted.) Madam Vice President, Deputy Administrator Melroy, and everyone here today with a shared affection and passion for space: I had a chance to reread Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” before today’s visit here, and his message about that pale blue dot being the stage where the entirety of human history unfolds still resonates deeply with me.
On July 20, 1967, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped off Apollo 11 to become the first humans to set foot on the Moon. I still vividly remember watching that historic moment on TV; it was during summer break when I was in third grade. And ever since, for me personally, space has been the embodiment of dreams and new challenges.
And my visit today to NASA, where all these dreams and challenges begin, reminds me of that moment and has made me renew my resolve to never stop pursuing my dreams.
Over the past six decades, NASA has inspired and instilled the can-do spirit in countless people around the world by championing mankind’s endeavors to explore the unknown universe.
NASA’s contributions to space exploration, the development of aerospace technology, and the betterment of human life, all empowered by its cutting-edge technological prowess, are nothing short of extraordinary. I’m delighted that NASA’s Artemis program, designed to put men back on the Moon by 2025, is off to a successful start.
The universe has immense potential not only for bringing economic prosperity to mankind, but for offering breakthroughs in our efforts to cope with climate change and other global challenges. For example, satellites can be a valuable tool in fighting climate change by collecting vast amounts of oceanic and climate data, which can be analyzed to identify causes of global warming and predict extreme weather events.
I’ve always believed that mankind’s future lies in space. And with that conviction in mind, last year I laid out the Space Economy Roadmap, which aims to put Korea on a solid path towards becoming one of the world’s top five leaders in space technology by reaching the Moon for resource extraction by 2032 and landing people on Mars by 2045. And under that vision, we’re in the process of establishing a Korean equivalent of NASA, called “KASA,” to spearhead this initiative.
The universe holds great promise as the stage where synergies from international solidarity and partnerships can deliver their greatest benefits. The joint communiqué to be signed today between NASA and Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT will serve as a springboard for taking space cooperation between our two allies to the next level of a space alliance.
I also hope that growing bilateral collaboration in space will also enable the two allies to play a leading role in ensuring that benefits of space exploration are shared by all people around the world and take the helm in establishing fair and rational principles for use of outer space.
With KASA on the way, cooperation between KASA and NASA down the road will be the driving force behind forging a strong space alliance. The first step in that direction will have to be a bilateral communication platform that can facilitate joint projects and the exchange of people, information, and knowledge between KASA and NASA. I look forward to valuable input from NASA in shaping KASA through personal exchange and other means.
Once again, I’d like to reiterate the significance of this year as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the U.S.-ROK alliance.
The best way to celebrate this momentous milestone is for us to work together to elevate what has been so far a shared value-based alliance into a full-fledged, broad-based alliance, with space collaboration leading the next 70 years of this alliance. It is my hope that the space alliance we will forge will go beyond cooperation in space technology and space economy to ultimately encompass space security.
In closing, I hope that today will go down in history as a day when our two allies took their first step towards forming a space alliance that becomes the impetus that stopped climate change.
Thank you. (Applause.)
END 4:07 P.M. EDT