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Letter to the Secretary of Defense on Space Launch Failures

November 29, 1999

Dear Mr. Secretary:

Thank you for conducting and reporting on your thorough and in-depth review of the U.S. space launch failures that occurred in 1998 and 1999. I am pleased to know that you have identified the root causes behind each of the recent launch failures and that you have worked with NASA, the Intelligence Community, and industry to take corrective actions to prevent recurrences. I also appreciate your efforts, and the efforts of industry, in uncovering and addressing the broader systemic concerns that may have contributed to this series of failures.

I have asked Dr. Neal Lane, my Assistant for Science and Technology, and Mr. Sandy Berger, my Assistant for National Security Affairs, to review your report. Now and in the next century, our national security, civil, and commercial space sectors will continue to depend on reliable access to space to achieve our broader national goals. Your report correctly points out the importance of successfully flying the remaining current fleet of expendable launch vehicles already on contract, with missions valued at more than $20 billion, while assuring mission success during the transition from these current systems to the modernized Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles.

Thank you again for the hard work and dedication of the government-industry team in uncovering the technical and management problems associated with these launch failures. Please implement appropriate actions to correct the causes of the failures and ensure our nation's ability to reliably access space in the future.


NOTE: This letter was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on December 1. An original was not available for verification of the content of this letter.

William J. Clinton, Letter to the Secretary of Defense on Space Launch Failures Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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