Ted Cruz Invokes JFK on Assuming Senate Space Subcommitee Chairmanship

Sen. Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz

WASHINGTON, DC (Ted Cruz PR) — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in anticipation of his recently-announced chairmanship of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Space, and Competitiveness, today released the following statement:

“In 1961, President John F. Kennedy laid down a marker for space exploration that inspired a generation of Americans to reach for the stars, recognizing that the race to the heavens was nothing less than a crucial front in the battle between freedom and tyranny.

“More than 50 years later, we have lost sight of that clarion call. Russia’s status as the current gatekeeper of the International Space Station could threaten our capability to explore and learn, stunting our capacity to reach new heights and share innovations with free people everywhere. The United States should work alongside our international partners, but not be dependent on them. We should once again lead the way for the world in space exploration.

“Texas has a major stake in space exploration. Our space program marks the frontier of future technologies for defense, communications, transportation and more, and our mindset should be focused on NASA’s primary mission: exploring space and developing the wealth of new technologies that stem from its exploration. And commercial space exploration presents important new opportunities for us all. We must refocus our investment on the hard sciences, on getting men and women into space, on exploring low-Earth orbit and beyond, and not on political distractions that are extraneous to NASA’s mandate. I am excited to raise these issues in our subcommittee and look forward to producing legislation that confirms our shared commitment to this vital mission.”

Various Texans and thought-leaders within the space industry have voiced their support for Sen. Cruz’s chairmanship, including the following:

Walter Cunningham, Former NASA Astronaut and Apollo 7 Pilot:
“I’m pleased to hear that Senator Cruz will be chairing the important Subcommittee on Science and Space. In our discussions he has always a shown a strong interest in furthering the core goals of NASA and Johnson Space Center. He wants NASA to return to the scientific and exploration standards that enabled our country to win the space race.”

Bob Mitchell, President, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership:
“Sen. Ted Cruz has shared his vision for NASA with me a number of times over the last 12 months. I am excited about his appointment to the chairmanship of the Senate subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness. With his leadership and endorsement of NASA’s core mission of human space exploration, I believe that NASA will be able to continue unimpeded on its trajectory to take humans beyond low Earth orbit.”

Jean Marie Kranz, President, K6 Strategies and former senior advisor for space to Congressman Pete Olson, TX-22:
“I think it’s terrific to have Sen. Ted Cruz leading as Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Science and Space. Over the past six years, our nation’s human space flight programs, including commercial space, have taken a hit under the Obama Administration.

“Particularly, this Administration has placed too much focus on issues unrelated to NASA’s core mission and has failed to set achievable goals in the near-term to further our nation’s space capabilities — instead relying on hypothetical, amorphous missions decades or more in the future.

“We need committee leadership that is innovative, fearless and most critically, independent from the Administration’s agenda. Not to mention one that will protect NASA’s Johnson Space Center from partisan politics. NASA must remain true to its bipartisan legacy and outline a realistic space strategy, that is attainable in years, not decades.”

Jeff Bingham, former staff director to the U.S. Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Space and Science and former chief of staff to Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah:
“As ranking Republican member of the subcommittee last Congress, Sen. Cruz has demonstrated his recognition of the importance of the U.S. Civil Space Program and the direction charted by Congress and embodied in the current law. I am confident he will continue that balanced approach as he assumes the chairmanship of the subcommittee.

“As a vocal and visible supporter of efforts to ensure effective use of limited taxpayer funds, I believe he will be an effective spokesman and leader in trimming wasteful and unnecessary government spending across government, while ensuring the wise investment of taxpayer funds in areas such as NASA, where the government has a leadership responsibility and can provide maximum benefit to the public and opportunities for private investment.”

Bob Harvey, President and CEO, Greater Houston Partnership:
“Houston is pleased to have a Texan lead the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Space, and Competitiveness. NASA and the Johnson Space Center are a vital part of the Houston regional economy as they continue to press ahead with their next generation exploration mission. Through his new chairmanship and work as ranking member of the committee for the last two years, Sen. Cruz understands the issues and is well positioned to support NASA by fighting for the funding the agency needs and working to maintain the United States’ legacy in space.”

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Let’s see if Romney says he’ll fire Cruz in the primary the way he said he’d fire Gingrich for proposing a Moon base.

  • Smokey_the_Bear

    Hopefully he is a strong supporter of using private rocket companies to provide the ride, too & from space.
    Oh, and kill the SLS boondoggle.

  • Bob Redman

    I don’t know what you’ve been smokin’, Smokey, but SLS is the only rocket that’ll get us into deep space, as Cruz wants. As for using private companies to give us a ride, that’s just what they’ve been doing. SpaceX and Boeing. Or have you been too busy hibernatin’ big fella?

  • Terry Rawnsley

    No Bob, Smokey’s just reciting the private space mantra which goes something like: “Kill SLS and Orion – and give the money to (insert New Space company here.) ” There’s billions of dollars in private money floating around out there just looking for a good investment but somehow New Space just keeps looking to the taxpayers to fund their dreams. Dreamchaser goes into suspended animation without NASA money. Boeing threatens to abandon their project unless they get a nod for commercial crew. The only concern I think would actually continue on without taxpayer money is SpaceX and even they would put crewed Dragon on a slower track without the NASA taxi contract.
    Whether Smokey or you or I agree with how they spend the money, Congress has the right to fund whatever job program, uh, I mean boondoggle, uh, I mean, Space Launch System they choose. It is all kind of academic anyway until we have someplace beyond LEO to go and a good reason to go there.

  • Wow, those planetary surfaces must all be CGIs. I knew it!

  • Bob Redman

    I take your point, Terry. In the end, it’s up to Congress to give the funding to NASA. However, I don’t agree that
    Orion/SLS is a boondoggle.

    I think the point of Orion and SLS are not understood well by the public nor by those in the space community. NASA should do a better job of explaining this, but I think they are on the right path, nonetheless.

    First off, Orion is specifically designed to bring humans safely back to Earth from deep space missions, whether they be to the Moon, an asteroid or to Mars. Ok, that’s important and a needed first step no matter what. And Orion is built and ready.

    SLS is the workhorse in achieving these goals. It’s the main lift to put habitats, landers, propulsion systems (and Orion) into Earth orbit. The real disconnect occurs when people say, and rightly so, “Well, are we building this giant bucket with nothing to put inside or a destination beyond Earth orbit?”

    The reason for that is complex, almost as complex as rocket science itself. The ever changing opinions (and money) in Congress and the Administration is like quicksand for NASA. They can’t announce a very detailed plan to any degree without the Government jumping on them and tinkering. But first things first. I think NASA is doing the smartest thing it can with the money it’s been given. Build the Orion and the SLS first. That way, after it’s built and proven safe, the next Congress and President can then decide what to put inside and what the destinations should be. But the first hundred miles will be the hardest to accomplish, wherever we go, and SLS will be ready.

    Sounds backwards, the cart before the horse, but I’m betting it will prove to be the smart move in the long run.

    SpaceX is doing all they can as well. The Falcon Heavy will be an amazingly powerful rocket. And, since they are a private company and thus not burdened by a Congress, they are much more nimble and extremely innovative. Between the two, NASA and SpaceX, I bet we get to Mars or another deep space destination far sooner than anyone suspects. We will need both in order to accomplish just that.

    I’m not as cynical about the space program as many are. I teach students about spaceflight. They need and crave inspiration in order to have the desire to study science and math in the first place.

    It’s up to us to give them just that. Not blue smoke and mirrors, but engagement and dialog with the powers that be. If we give that up because of our cynicism, then what else is there?

  • Saturn13

    I was never inspired to reach for the stars. My arms are at my side when I look up at stars. Perhaps the most ridiculous phrase ever. The writer has been watching and turning into fact, ScFi.

  • Terry Rawnsley

    Thanks for the eloquent reply. I really don’t see SLS as a boondoggle and it would be kind of nice to have the car already built when we finally decide on the destination for our vacation. My point was more that so-called “private” space was sure asking for a lot of public money while at the same time celebrating their entrepreneurial spirit and that we really need a mission for whatever system we send beyond LEO.

    I have been watching us go to space since I sat through hours of “holds” waiting for Mercury launches. We didn’t conquer space when we landed on the Moon but the “gee whiz” aspect of the space program, the discovery phase, is now pretty much history (at least in near-Earth space.) We are now in the exploitation phase where we have to find a way of making space useful to people on Earth. That means 6 people in an expensive tin can growing lettuce in orbit and walking on treadmills. All of it is useful and necessary but not really exciting. That is the challenge for your students, using the “space” and the resources found there to create a better Earth.

  • James

    Honestly If he can get more support and funding for NASA and actually fully fund CCDEV and the like as well as restore funding removed from everything else for SLS I would be happy.

    Honestly I don’t think you can cancel the SLS. Like the F-35 and other projects it’s just to much of a jobs/money program. To many people benefit from its continued existence and thats all that matters.

    I do however think in the end it will be a waste. To much money on something that in the end will be obsolete by the time it’s built and ready. Everything else will do the job cheaper. We don’t have enough engines for more than 4 missions even which means billions more to build the factory and build the engines which will take even more years and billions.

    There were a lot of better options for a super heavy lifter out there many were submitted but in the end the politicians decided they were smarter than everyone else and made NASA tell the builders what to use and who to use and how to do it.

    It’s kind of like saying hitting someone in the head with a 2×6 is the same as giving them a shot to put them to sleep. Sure the same thing is accomplished but there are consequences and it can simply be done better.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Sorry, but that is not something I would count on. From the Houston Chronicle’s space blogger

    http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2015/01/what-does-ted-cruz-mean-for-nasa-and-human-spaceflight/

    ” Of NASA’s spaceflight programs, Cruz said, “NASA’s core mission is to
    engage in space exploration, and I’m looking forward to chairing the
    science and space committee and focusing on the core mission of NASA
    again.” This is consistent with the Republican view that Obama has not
    put enough money into spaceflight. The core mission of NASA, in their
    view, is human exploration of the solar system. I am speculating here,
    but it is likely that Cruz supports continued funding for the Space
    Launch System and Orion spacecraft, which have support not only from
    NASA administration but from key aerospace contractors who lobby heavily
    in Washington D.C. As one private space source told me Monday, “Until I
    hear otherwise, I will assume he takes pork position of other Space
    Socialist Republicans: Massive overspending on SLS, Orion is great,
    Commercial crew is an outrageous Obama subsidy in free market.”

    Remember, the Senator got his assignment by helping to lead the opposition to President Obama, so anything that President Obama is for he is likely against… And in Washington its always politics first.

    Its also why I would not only expect not only climate science to be cut, but also the search for ET.

  • Chad Overton

    I think is unfair to lump all of the “new space” ppl together and say they are just looking for gov handouts. The main problem with SLS and Orion is the contracting mechanisms. Thats what makes them so expensive. And most new space supporters only advocate that the money could be better spent.

  • mzungu

    I’ll be darned if anyone remembers who the last two “Chair of the Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness” are, or what they accomplished for science….

    So, doubt that Cruz will make much of impact or differences compared to them last few Chairs…

  • Vladislaw

    “and give the money to (insert New Space company here.) ”
    Actually what a lot of others, myself included, advocate that NASA buy the service and not design, develop and operate launch systems or utilize cost plus fixed fee, sole sourced, non competitely bid FAR contracts for launch systems. Instead, NASA should buy the service and when the service does not exist use SAA’s and milestones and force the competing firms into getting some skin in the game.

  • Vladislaw

    What is there to understand? The OIG stated the Orion, 4 person, water landing DISPOSABLE capsule would cost 16.5 billion, the GOA said the runout would be closer to 23 billion …
    23 BILLION for a water landing disposable capsule.. sounds like a bargin at only 1.1 billion a pop. Toss in the SLS launch costs and we are going to drown in the atlantic ocean about 3.6 billion in hardware for a 4 person launch into LEO.
    Nothing spells SUSTAINABILTY like throwing billions away per launch. This program is dead.. just noone has bothered to bury it yet.

  • Terry Rawnsley

    I’m not actually lumping ALL the “new space” people together and insinuating that they are only here for a handout. Still, my criticism of Boeing and Sierra Nevada is valid. I’m hanging them with their own words and actions. I’m not trying to defend SLS/Orion either. “Apollo on steroids” has shrunk and backslid and can best be described as “forward – into the past.” Is it a jobs program? Absolutely! Are we paying too much and getting too little? You bet! Should they reform the acquisition process? Of course!
    Still, for better or worse, it is Congress’ decision as to what gets funded. Everybody who reads the articles and bothers to post here has an interest in “private space” and hopes to see it flourish. I just happen think that “private space” should be developed with “private” money.

  • Chad Overton

    Thats a straw man argument. It’s still a better way than the super expensive, obsolete tech they are developing now. I totally agree with Vlad.

  • windbourne

    Nope.
    He has voted over and over to cut NASA spending, as well as voted to back gutting private space and backing sls. He also supported whittling cctcap down to 1 provider ( which he was backing boeing), and has no issue with sending another 1B to russia to launch in 2018 and 19.
    He will say one thing and do another.

  • JDCampbell

    SLS is the just the continuation of the ATK monopoly from the Bush administrations Orion boondoggle. NASA needs to investment in a reliable heavy lift and develop a vehicle for humans to explore our solar system.