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2003 Speeches
Jim Albaugh

James F. Albaugh


Chief Executive

Boeing Integrated Defense Systems

"Space: The Ultimate High Ground"

AIAA Space 2003

Long Beach, California

September 23, 2003

Thank you. It's good to be here.

Once again, I'd like to congratulate the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics for the excellent work it has done in organizing this conference.

Over the next three days, we will focus on the important issues affecting the future of commercial, civil and military space.

Three years ago, at AIAA Space 2000 in Long Beach, we had more than 1,500 attendees. This year, we expect about 1,000 people. Even though we have fewer attendees, that's still a pretty impressive turnout, given the conditions in parts of our industry.

To put it into perspective, we have more than seven times the number of people who are currently running for governor of the state of California at this conference - very impressive.

A lot has happened over the past three years, and that includes a number of painful events affecting all of our businesses.

But before I start talking about the state of the business and some of you start thinking that I have any great insights into the future, let me share with you what I was saying several years ago.

With that in mind, let's review where we are today.

On the commercial side, there have been major losses for just about everyone involved in building commercial satellite systems. While the owner/operators of satellite systems are doing well, the anticipated growth projected has not materialized.

In military space, our industry has over-promised and under-delivered in a whole range of programs. Tom Young has done a good job in his recent Defense Science Board Review in documenting many of the issues we have faced.

And, finally, most traumatically, in civil space we experienced the tragic loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Once again, people are asking: Is there a continuing role for manned space?

Against this backdrop, I have been asked to give you my vision of the future from an industry perspective. Clearly, that begs the question of what have we learned from our recent difficulties.

Even more importantly, however, I believe that it raises the question of what are the most critical, most important, enduring needs of the customer and how does space support and address these needs.

Let's talk first about commercial space.

Everyone knows that commercial space has suffered as a result of the extraordinary meltdown in the telecommunications sector.

Last year Boeing competed for just three commercial satellite orders. This year, there will be a dozen orders worldwide. Quite frankly, I don't see us ever getting back to the 25-30 geo-satellite orders a year that we enjoyed in the late 90s.

Regardless, there exists an enduring human need for communications and a desire for it to be faster, better, cheaper, ubiquitous - unfortunately, satellites are not always the best answer to the problem of how to provide that.

Looking back at what happened to Globalstar, Teledesic, Iridium, ICO and all the rest, I am reminded of a scene from the movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, where Indiana Jones is confronted with a bearded giant who - in warming up for battle - puts on a tremendous display of swordsmanship, spinning around and rending the air with a beautifully designed gold saber.

Everyone is impressed - except for Indiana Jones. Before the giant can strike a blow, Jones pulls out a simple pistol and shoots him dead.

Whether you twirl sabers or satellites, the moral of this story is that those who live by the sword - especially a gold-plated one - are all too likely to be shot by those who don't.

Though it hurts to say it, in today's telecommunications market, those of us who make satellites and launch rockets have been overtaken by those who lay cable and provide wireless systems.

And we should have seen it coming.

We were working on complex space-based systems that would take billions of dollars and many years to build. And we failed to notice all of the developments that were lowering the cost and improving the quality of terrestrial point-to-point voice systems.

We have looked very hard at the satellite market. Not by looking at industry projections but by looking at the demands of the ultimate customer. And frankly, I am not optimistic about a recovery. I don't see any new killer applications that are going to drive the market. Even high-definition television will not generate many new satellite orders. I look for basically a replacement market, and about 12-15 satellites per year.

I hope I am wrong and, of course, based on my opening comments I have been wrong before.

Now let's turn to civil space.

I believe human beings have an enduring need for exploration and discovery. We will never know enough about our world ... or the universe around us.

Every day, in a variety of ways, people are touched by space. NASA is celebrated worldwide for having accomplished things in its history that no one has ever done before.

None of those achievements happened by accident. They are the result of innovation, revolutionary technologies and solid science and research by dedicated individuals with a passion for space.

Unfortunately, this desire does not necessarily bring the funding needed to enable the next generation of engineers to go back to the moon or on to Mars or to discover new destinations.

It has been a long time - almost three decades - since man last walked on the moon. But thanks to various ventures in space - both manned and unmanned - we have learned a tremendous amount about our planet, our solar system and our universe.

Before the Hubble Telescope, it seemed likely that there were no planets outside our own solar system. Now, we have found a number of solar systems with planets.

And, just the other day, it was reported that the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory had picked up sound waves for the first time from a cluster of galaxies 250 million light years away.

Analyzing Chandra images, astronomers discovered that the supermassive and superhot black hole which holds together an immense grouping of galaxies, known as the Perseus cluster, produces sound as well as light and heat energy.

We also know that water is needed to support life, and all indications point to the presence of water on Mars. So maybe that planet supports or has supported some form of life.

Whether our next destination is back to the moon or on to Mars, there is an inescapable human element to exploration and discovery. Our nation must do this.

We cannot just sit by and watch others do it. Russia, Europe, Japan and India all have space exploration programs. China will soon launch its first human missions.

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board report recommends a number of mechanical fixes to make the Shuttle safer in the short term. However, as Admiral Gehman has repeatedly stated in talking about the board's seven-month-long investigation into the Columbia failure, there are "no showstoppers"; NASA's present Space Shuttle is not inherently unsafe.

As that is the case, I see a few urgent priorities.

Number One: Make all of the needed changes and return the Shuttle to flight. We must complete the mission of building the International Space Station.

Number Two: We need to make some fixes and modifications to the Shuttle. Among the recommendations from the CAIB is recertifying all shuttle components and systems for operation by 2010. In tandem with that effort, we need to go ahead with fielding the new space plane or Crew Rescue Vehicle. I am confident that our industry will be able to meet NASA's more aggressive timeline of fielding this vehicle as early as 2008.

And Number Three: We need to start thinking - Now - about a next-generation vehicle or vehicles, which can be developed and begin to operate before the Shuttle is retired.

I applaud Admiral Gehman in calling for a national debate on America's future in space. There are big decisions that we - as a nation - must make about our future in space. We have to decide where we want to go next and how we are going to get there.

America's Aeronautics and Space Program does great things. It breaks the bonds of the known and travels into the unknown. It captures the world's imagination, and opens a window to the universe. It offers the next generation hope, inspiration, and opportunity. But it's all up to us to keep it moving forward.

Now, I'd like to look at Military Space.

The enduring need for our Defense Department and Armed Services is to protect ourselves against a wide range of asymmetrical threats. This need drives capability requirements, which can be satisfied in a number of different ways. Some of these requirements are best satisfied by assets in space - capabilities such as Global Situational Awareness and Integrated Command, Control and Communications.

We got a glimpse of how space assets can satisfy these requirements in Iraq.

Never in the history of warfare have combined forces moved so far, so fast, in achieving victory while minimizing both casualties and collateral damage.

It was - as Secretary Rumsfeld said - a victory for jointness, a victory for Interoperability, and a victory for the whole idea of Transformation in how our Armed Forces think, train, exercise, and fight. To a large degree this "jointness" was driven by the use of space assets.

What we saw in Iraq was truly amazing - and it is just the beginning of network-centric warfare, which seeks to provide every soldier within a theater with perfect or near-perfect situational awareness - knowing exactly where the enemy is, knowing exactly where his or her own forces are, being able to see through "the fog of war." And never losing the ability to communicate, even in the midst of battle.

The goal of network-centric warfare is to make sure that 'no soldier is ever alone.' The solitary soldier - even one on horseback on the side of a mountain - is never alone, because he or she is one node within a system, or a system of systems, which seamlessly links together all of the assets within the battlespace and allows them to work as one. Whenever our soldiers - individually or in small teams - venture into harm's way, we want them to do so under the protective gaze of thousands of eyes, and with the knowledge that they may summon plenty of shooters at a moment's notice.

A program that will help do this is Future Combat Systems. It will make the Army lighter, faster and more agile - orders of magnitude lighter, faster and more agile.

To accomplish this requires the integration of space, land, sea and air assets and the talent of virtually every large aerospace company in the world.

In the future, we will see more and more use of space as part of integrated systems. It will not be about who has the most tanks, ships and planes - it will be about who can utilize information and knowledge - who can collect data, communicate that data, turn the data into information, the information into knowledge, and the knowledge into decisions and actions.

Space-based communications and data gathering will be the centerpiece of the Integrated Battlespace of the future.

In addition to the integrated battlespace, the ability to link different systems together also is critical to developing the ability to defend ourselves against missile strikes by hostile states. Over the past three years, the missile defense team has made great strides in demonstrating the System-of-Systems capabilities needed to "hit a bullet with a bullet" in space. We have been successful in countless missile defense intercepts.

We have integrated existing space and ground assets, none of which was designed to work together, to provide a capability that no single system could provide on its own. This is true "systems of systems" work. At its essence Missile Defense is the first true integrated system of systems capability and it has broad and important implications in other areas. It is an example of how we have taken space and ground assets that were not designed to work together and integrated them to provide a capability that no single system could provide on its own.

In closing - five years ago, no one foresaw - perhaps no one could have foreseen - the sudden collapse in the commercial space arena. On the other hand, few people imagined the awesome speed and agility demonstrated by our Armed Forces, brought about by an all-embracing and far-from-finished Transformation within the military.

Casey Stengel once said, "Predictions are difficult, especially about the future." Churchill put the same thought differently when he said, "The future, while imminent, is obscure." I believe that we can best deal with future uncertainty by focusing on the enduring needs of our nation and on customers, which are not going to change with time.

Since this conference is directed toward space ventures and space issues, let me close by saying that there are enduring needs to be met that demand a continuing willingness to send sophisticated equipment and human beings into space. These include:

How we address these needs is our challenge. How we address these needs will determine what our industry will be in the years ahead.