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National Archives

Public Papers - 1989 - July

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the National Aero-Space Plane Program


The President, acting upon the recommendation of the Vice President, has approved the continuation of the National Aero-Space Plane (NASP) program as a high-priority national effort to develop and demonstrate hypersonic technologies with the ultimate goal of single-stage-to-orbit.

The Government will complete the Phase II technology development program, and plans to develop an experimental flight vehicle after completion of Phase II, if technically feasible. The system will be designed to focus on the highest priority research, as opposed to operational, objectives. Unmanned as well as manned designs will be considered, and the program will be conducted in such a way as to minimize technical and cost uncertainty.

The President also approved an implementation plan to carry out this policy. The plan extends technology development until early 1993 to reduce technical and cost risks. It retains an experimental flight vehicle focused on research and technology objectives and retains a joint program management structure with participation by both the Department of Defense and NASA.

The Space Council recommendations approved by the President termed the National Aero-Space Plane a vital national effort which benefits the civil, commercial, and national security interests of the Nation. The NASP program promotes industrial competitiveness, fosters U.S. space leadership, and provides the technological basis for greatly expanded access to space in the 21st century. We call on Congress to join in fully implementing the Space Council recommendations and in moving forward with the important NASP program.

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