04/27/16 – Ambassador Mark Lippert Remarks at Civil Space Agreement Signing Ceremony

04/27/16 - Ambassador Mark Lippert Remarks at Civil Space Agreement Signing Ceremony

Ambassador Mark Lippert
April 27, 2016 :


Foreign Minister Yun, thank you, for your very kind words.  And I would just say at the outset, we–on your comments on North Korea–we remain completely aligned on our goals and need to work closely together. We appreciate you highlighting that great area of cooperation between our two countries and it is really important and on our minds to this day.

To colleagues here today, members of the press, invited guests, thank you for being here, this is a great honor. It is extremely exciting. This work that we are doing together really represents the very best of our relationship and these two countries.

I would be remiss if in addition to thanking Minister Yun and MOFA, if I didn’t also highlight the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning – who really did a good deal of the heavy lifting – and of course the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, or KARI, for all of your hard work in crafting this agreement and bringing our two nations together in this important field.

This is the first U.S. framework between the United States and an Asia Pacific nation, and I think it represents that the U.S.-Republic of Korea Alliance remains at the cutting edge of technology and innovation. It’s an honor to be here and I am also excited to open the second Republic of Korea-U. S. Civil Space Dialogue. So in addition to having this great ceremony, we are also kicking off a dialogue here today.

Space is an exciting new frontier and I am a big believer and fan of space exploration and all the scientific and technology work done in and around space.  The United States and Republic of Korea have a strong history of basic space cooperation.  And, by signing this framework agreement here today we are laying the groundwork to take this cooperation and collaboration to exciting new heights.

Our collaboration in space – that will be dramatically enhanced by this framework agreement – promises to expand boundaries of knowledge, inspire innovation, develop new technologies, and will be a driver of economic growth.  This collaboration will also build stronger relations between our two countries – broadening, deepening, and strengthening our Alliance as a whole.

This is precisely why the leadership of our two countries have put such an importance on this part of the relationship.  It why President Obama made this a priority during his visit here in April of 2014. It is why he signed into law the U.S. Space Launch Competitive Act of 2015. It is why President Park made an historic visit to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center last fall, and it’s why our two leaders identified space, along with cyber, energy, global health and environment as a critical New Frontier of U.S.-ROK relations during their Summit last October and instructed our two governments to get this Framework Agreement done.

After months of robust discussions – underscoring its importance – we are ready to sign this agreement that will expedite future cooperation by establishing a legal framework, at the government to government level, for cooperation in space exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.  It highlights our potential cooperation in topics as varied as:

  • Space science and exploration;
  • Earth observation;
  • Heliophysics
  • Climate change research and the sharing of environmental data.

But these are just a few examples of the work we hope to embark upon together under this agreement.  This framework document – along with the strong commitments of our two leaders, our research communities, and our two peoples – will help drive this forward.

I am also delighted, as I mentioned earlier, to note that later this morning, our two governments will get to work immediately by holding the second U.S.-ROK civil space dialogue.  Our delegations – experts from our respective space agencies and institutions – will discuss potential cooperation on future exploration activities.  Those include Korea’s lunar exploration project, the International Space Station, and the future exploration of Mars.  I would like to thank Director General Bae Tae Min from the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning and Mr. Ken Hodgkins from the U.S. Department of State for their leadership and dedication in further expanding this important part of our cooperation.

Other tangible benefits of this cooperation are already here.  The air quality field study that NASA and the National Institute for Environmental Research will start in just a few days.  More than 200 scientists from the United States will collaborate with Korean researchers to study the sources and movement of fine particulate matter and air pollution on the Korean peninsula.  This project is a perfect example of how our two countries are addressing an important health and environmental issue, while developing resources that will benefit the global community.  Representatives of that joint team are here today, and I am looking forward to meeting them later on.

Let me wrap up by saying ultimately space is about new frontiers and endless possibilities, and I believe that the future will surprise and delight us in ways we cannot yet imagine.  I am thrilled, and a little envious, of the talented students who have joined us today.  It is my pleasure to welcome them here and some of the most impressive young space scientists from South Korea – Team Divinity – a team of six high school students who recently won the grand prize in a NASA international space competition.  Just as these six students combined their ideas and talents to design a settlement for 10,000 humans in space, the success of global space cooperation depends upon finding partners who share the same inspirational goals and sense of commitment.  I also want to recognize the President of Korea Aerospace University, Dr. Lee, who is here with the very talented KAU students.   Many of these bright minds in this room here today will make the next big discoveries and lead to future explorations as mankind pushes beyond the boundaries of this planet.

In conclusion, as the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea I have been honored to witness this exciting, innovative, and creative forces that are building our bilateral relationship. I often speak about the New Frontiers of the U.S.-ROK Alliance.  This refers to our shared interests in 21st century challenges — environment, global health, cyber security, energy, and space – to name a few.  Among those, space is truly the frontier that pushes the boundaries – literally and figuratively – of our global partnership and along with the other New Frontiers keeps this relationship innovative, dynamic and ready to meet virtually any challenge.

The teams and groups assembled here today represent the very best of our relationship.  It represents the storied past, the vibrant and exciting cooperation we are doing here in the present day, and the dynamic potential for this alliance for decades to come.  The goals of space exploration, such as journeying to the moon, Mars, are shared by mankind and not limited by national boundaries.  In space, we must work together, drawing upon the best resources, the best ideas and jointly marshalling all this together needed to realize these dreams.

Foreign Minister Yun, I know you share my faith in the strength and future of our bilateral relationship – underscored by this important space agreement – and the spirit in which we will move forward.  And let me end by saying this – as in space as in on earth: Katchi Kapshida.