Cornyn: We Need A Clear Vision For Human Space Flight

 Senator Discusses NASA, Johnson Space Center & Obama’s Kennedy Space Center Visit

 WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, today went to the Senate floor to discuss the future of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Johnson Space Center in Texas, and President Obama’s scheduled visit to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Excerpts and a link to a video clip of Sen. Cornyn’s remarks are below. The President’s Visit to the Kennedy Space Center: “Mr. President, this week President Obama is scheduled to visit the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Many Americans expect the President to explain his vision for America’s space program in the decades ahead. Such a vision is long overdue from this Administration.

One year after celebrating its 50th year – as well as the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing – the White House has proposed a budget that will force NASA to abandon its historic role in space exploration.” “The Administration wants to terminate NASA’s Constellation program, our nation’s flagship endeavor to return Americans to the moon and beyond. After $9 billion invested over seven years, the President would leave NASA adrift and without a mission. I hope the President will announce that he’s thought better of his decision – and this morning I’d like to take a few minutes to explain why he should do so.” The Johnson Space Center in Texas: “Texas is proud of our close connection with NASA’s human space flight program – and we recognize how it has helped transform the Greater Houston Area into a high-tech leader. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden was quoted recently as saying, ‘with all due respect to everybody who opposes the budget,’ a very serious and real concern is the jobs. General Bolden is correct in one way: the cancellation of Constellation – combined with the retirement of the Space Shuttle – could cost the region as many as 7,000 direct jobs, according to the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership.” Strategic Impact for America: “Texans understand that the local economic impact in Greater Houston would be nothing compared to the strategic opportunity cost for the United States. For one thing, the end of the Constellation Program will increase our dependence on Russia to transport Americans to the International Space Station – a Space Station built with billions of American taxpayer dollars. Soon Russia will not be the only nation to surpass the United States in human space flight. All these nations are investing in human space flight not only because they want their flags to be the first to fly on Mars, but also because they know their investments will get a good return.” Role of Private Sector: “The White House believes that the private sector can play a larger role in space exploration – and they are right.

We certainly want to encourage private investment and public-private partnerships in the development of space technologies. We want to help NASA become an even better partner with aerospace entrepreneurs. But NASA cannot pass the baton of human space flight to a runner that is still trying on its shoes.” What President Obama Should Say: “So what should President Obama say when he visits the Kennedy Space Center this week. First, President Obama should recognize the tremendous uncertainty he has created by proposing to end the Constellation program without identifying a viable alternative to it. Second, he should make clear that Congress has the last word on the Constellation program. Third, he should articulate a clear vision for the future of human space flight in our country. And fourth, he should ensure that his budget request will fund his vision – and that it will be carefully aligned with this exploration plan.” Conclusion: “Mr. President, just yesterday a number of American heroes made clear what a vision for American space flight should look like. More than two dozen former astronauts and flight directors – as well as a former NASA Administrator – wrote an open letter to the President. They wrote, America’s greatness lies in her people: she will always have men and women willing to ride rockets into the heavens. I hope President Obama listens to those words.” # # #

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