Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, convened a subcommittee hearing today titled “NASA at a Crossroads: Reasserting American Leadership in Space Exploration.”

The hearing asked witnesses to focus on the importance of ensuring consistency in policy to best leverage investments made in human space exploration.

Also, the hearing was intending to explore questions facing NASA related to the upcoming presidential transition.

Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

Here’s is testimony given today:

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Good afternoon, and thank you, Senator Cruz, for calling this hearing. I greatly appreciate our coming together to work toward a bill that will keep NASA moving forward in an exciting and productive manner.

It’s notable that July 20th, one week from today, marks the 40th anniversary of the first landing on Mars by NASA’s Viking 1. And the legacy of that mission, and subsequent missions to the Red Planet, is that we now know that Mars was once warm and wet and may very well have supported life. There’s even evidence of flowing water at the surface of Mars today.

In 2010, we passed a bipartisan NASA Authorization Act calling on the agency to explore beyond the Earth’s orbit, with the long term goal of a human mission to Mars.

I recently visited Stennis Space Center and the Michoud Assembly Facility on the Gulf Coast, as well as the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, and I can tell that progress toward that goal is real. We also have Orion at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida being prepared for its first journey beyond the moon. We are going to Mars, and the rockets and engines and spacecraft that are the building blocks of that mission are being assembled and tested right now!

And if all continues to go well, by the end of next year, we will once again have American astronauts launching to space from Florida soil on American rockets, thanks to the partnerships NASA has forged with SpaceX and Boeing.

It is truly an exciting time for our space program.

This committee has always worked in a non-partisan manner, and I am pleased to be a part of continuing that tradition in this Congress as we work toward advancing and passing a NASA reauthorization.

Thank you all for being here, and I look forward to your testimony.

NOTE: Here’s the video of the hearing:


Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar, Executive Director, Coalition for Deep Space Exploration

— Professor Dan Dumbacher, Professor of Engineering Practice, Purdue University

— Mr. William H. Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator of Human Exploration and Operations, NASA

— Mr. Mike Gold, Vice President of Washington Operations, SSL

— Mr. Mark Sirangelo, Vice President of Space Systems Group, Sierra Nevada Corporation


One Response to “Tale of the Testimony: NASA at a Crossroads – Reasserting American Leadership in Space Exploration”

  • Kye Goodwin says:

    Is it now becoming politically important to believe that, “we now know that Mars was once warm and wet and may very well have supported life ” ? We do not know that Mars was ever warm and wet for the millions of years necessary to have fostered Earth-like life. The climate may well have been warm and wet for short periods after big impact events, but until that relatively simple explanation is eliminated, we should not become too committed to the idea of a stable, long term Earth-like climate. The sun’s output has been slowly increasing over billions of years and Mars has always been much smaller and further from the sun than Earth.

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