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Speaking Up

A look at noteworthy addresses in the Southland.

May 21, 1993

NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin delivered the keynote address at the inaugural University of Southern California Engineering Day on Saturday. From his address:

On Risks Inherent in Exploration

"All of us here believe in aerospace and the possibilities of the future. . . . We believe that space exploration can be a fulcrum and that the technology it generates can be the lever that moves America forward. The challenge of public policy for the space enterprise is simply to get on with it.

". . . For the last several years, a great and lengthy debate has been under way about the American space program. Should we? Can we? Will we? Those are the questions that have been asked about space travel.

"Every time a shuttle goes up there is risk. But our national psyche must not be damaged if we have an accident or if we stumble. The business of space flight is the business of accepting risk. We have to understand risk. We have to minimize risk. And we have to do our level best to achieve the highest level of safety possible for our astronauts. But in the end, there is never a 100% guarantee of anything.

"So, when you go to the edge, there is risk. We accept that in our daily lives. . . . We accept that fact and we should accept it no less when we go out to the edge on a new frontier like space.

"My generation has shown a tendency to be risk averse. Now we stand on the threshold of a new and exciting frontier. And for the first time in the history of this nation, we hesitate before the unknown. Will the next generation handle adversity better? . . . It is our job to teach the next generation of engineers that it simply is not possible to always play it safe without sacrificing one's values.

". . . This is what's wrong with our society today. We are too risk averse. We seek safety. We've forgotten how to be bold. We've told our young people that it is unacceptable to fail. If our society doesn't turn that around, then I fear we will be witnessing one of the telling signs of the decay of America."

On the Challenge for NASA Today

"For the NASA of today, the specific challenge is to win back our credibility through performance. We have to deliver on promises. We can't continue to string out mega-projects year after year, stretching into decades. Those times are gone.

". . . If we are to seize the moment and take hold of our destiny on the space frontier, it is up to us to make the choice to be bold, to be willing to risk and to have faith in ourselves and our future.

"We must reach a basic agreement about America's commitment to space flight. We must forge a compact that certifies our willingness to be a leading space-faring nation. We cannot do that without a readiness to be bold. As a leader on the space frontier, we cannot fully savor success unless we are willing to consider the prospect of failure. And we cannot do anything without teamwork."

Looking Ahead

* Monday: Actor and activist Richard Dreyfuss and film critic Michael Medved will discuss "Hollywood vs. America: Popular Culture and Social Responsibility," at UCLA Hillel, 7:30 p.m. Sponsored by the Hillel Jewish Students Assn. at UCLA and the UCLA Jewish Alumni Assn. Call (310) 208-3081.

* Monday: Madame Catherine Lalumiere, secretary-general of the council of Europe will speak to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on "Securing the Euro-Atlantic Bridge" at 7:30 p.m. at the Regent Beverly Wilshire. Call (213) 628-2333.

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