A Giant Leap: From Armstrong to Artemis – On the Sidelines of 66th COPUOS Meeting – Remarks Prepared for Ambassador Laura S.H. Holgate
Vienna, Austria, June 8, 2023
Good evening, esteemed guests and fellow space enthusiasts! We are honored to have UNOOSA Acting Director Niklas Hedman and NASA Deputy Associate Administrator Catherine Koerner with us this evening.
Today, I stand before you to celebrate a remarkable odyssey that has spanned decades, capturing the dreams and aspirations of humanity. Our journey through space has been nothing short of extraordinary – from the iconic footsteps of Neil Armstrong on the moon’s surface during the historic Apollo 11 mission in 1969 to the launch of the Artemis Accords in 2020.
Coinciding with the sixty-sixth session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, we thought it fitting to gather friends and colleagues in front of this powerful symbol of space exploration. This Neil Armstrong spacesuit statue (glance at the statue) has created quite the “buzz.” I am so pleased to announce that this statue will now be on display here at the VIC under the care of UNOOSA.
This statue doesn’t just celebrate history, but it also has an interesting history of its own. Here are a few “stellar tidbits”:
- Commissioned for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in 2019, the statue is made from 3D scans of Armstrong’s original spacesuit, which is in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
- The Smithsonian made 15 of these statues and displayed them at baseball stadiums around the United States during the 2019 baseball season. This was part of the Smithsonian’s “Apollo at the Park” project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.
- This particular replica statue was on display at Yankee Stadium in New York City. In September 2019, the U.S. Mission in Vienna had the honor to be selected as the only non-U.S. based recipient of a Smithsonian Armstrong Spacesuit Statue.
- In the spirit of international space cooperation and recalling the Apollo astronaut’s global goodwill tour in late 1969, we sent the statue on a tour to 14 locations across seven countries in Europe, where space fans had the opportunity to engage with it.
- At the opening event of the statue launch in Silesian Planetarium in Poland, radio journalist, astronomer Jarosław Juszkiewicz [Yar-O-suave Yush-kay-vitch]was a guest speaker. He is the “Google Maps Voice of Poland!” Apparently, his voice was heavenly!
Neil Armstrong’s steps on the moon inspired us all. The moon landing inspired us not only to continue exploring the cosmos, but also to work more closely across the political and natural borders that disappear from view the farther one travels from our planet. Space exploration requires collaboration, cooperation, and unity. In this spirit, the Artemis Accords were born. Named after the twin sister of Apollo, Artemis, the Accords, mark a new era of international cooperation in space. They symbolize our commitment to shared goals and the responsible exploration and use of outer space.
Through Artemis, NASA aims to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, heralding a new era for space exploration and utilization.
Developed by their original signatories, the Artemis Accords were launched on October 13, 2020, with Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. As of today, there are 25 signatories. A warm welcome to the newest signatories – Spain and Czech Republic! We will continue bringing together nations with a common vision for peaceful, sustainable, and transparent cooperation in space.
As Armstrong took that “giant leap for mankind” we set the stage for humanity’s insatiable thirst for knowledge and discovery. It was a small step for him but a colossal leap for all of us. We often say that we stand on the shoulders of giants who came before us and this is certainly true of Neil Armstrong and all the giants who dared to venture beyond the confines of our pale blue dot.
Of course, that’s only a metaphor; no climbing on the statue, but please take photos and selfies and share it with @USUNVIE on social media using the hashtag #Apollo11Selfie.
At home and worldwide, the United States is leading a coalition of countries for further exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond, and remains committed to working with all partners to bring the benefits of outer space back to Earth.
Thank you and may our space odyssey continue to inspire us for generations to come!