Sen. Cruz: We Must Maintain US Space Leadership as China and Other Countries Seek To Supplant Us

May 16, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In his opening statement at today’s full committee hearing titled “Examining NASA’s FY24 Budget and Priorities,” Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) discussed many of the exciting developments in space exploration and the importance of ensuring that the United States continues to lead the world in space exploration.

Ranking Member Cruz’s opening remarks, as prepared:

“Administrator Nelson, welcome back to the Committee . You were a great partner on many pieces of space legislation and thus far your tenure as NASA Administrator has seen a number of important successes. Today I am looking forward to hearing an update on all things space.

“First I think it’s only fitting to open with a note of congratulations to NASA and its international and commercial partners throughout the United States and the world, and especially those partners in Texas, for all your recent successes. Like many Americans, I watched with excitement as Artemis 1 blasted off into space as the first phase of America’s return to the Moon. I am thrilled that NASA has named the crew of the Artemis 2 mission – Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, Christina Koch and Jeremy Hansen – and I was glad to be at Ellington Field in Houston for that announcement. Over the next year, they will complete their training at the Johnson Space Center for their 2024 flight to the Moon.

“We were all equally excited about the recent test launch of SpaceX’s Starship from their Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas. While the “rapid unscheduled disassembly” was not exactly part of the plan, much was learned just getting off the pad and we look forward to SpaceX launching again soon.  know that SpaceX will be launching again soon.

Once completed, Starship will help us return Americans boots to lunar soil for the first time in more than 50 years on the Artemis 3 mission.

“There’s a reason “Houston” was one of the first words spoken from the surface of the moon, and why it’s one of the most common words in any astronaut’s vocabulary. Johnson Space Center, in Houston, is responsible for carrying out many key missions for space exploration. Not only is it the home of the International Space Station program, which I was glad, after years of fighting for it, we finally extended to 2030 last year, but it is also home to mission control and playing a leading role in our efforts to put a sustainable human presence on the moon and eventually put the first humans on the surface of Mars. From the Gateway lunar outpost, to the Orion capsule, to the next generation of spacesuits, to future lunar rovers, JSC is leading the way. As a life-long Houstonian I am so proud of the entire team at JSC and the Houston space community. 

“This year’s budget request includes even more funding for new spacesuits, developed by Collins Aerospace and Axiom, and will help ensure our astronauts are safe and productive on the ISS, the moon, and beyond.  These companies are just two of the many that also make the new Houston Spaceport a magnet for those who wish to help us explore the stars. 

“Now, Administrator Nelson, for all the good things I have talked about I do worry that we are losing focus on what makes America the preeminent spacefaring nation. Looking at this year’s budget request I see things like $22M for the ‘Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity,’ which has little to do with winning what you have called a space race “between the free world and China.” If we show up second at the Shackleton Crater, I highly doubt the Chinese Communist Party will care much about how we’ve advanced an “Equity Action Plan.”

Similarly this year, NASA —along with DOD and GSA —  advanced a new climate related regulation to require contractors to disclose their Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG), the “risks” they pose, and submit reduction targets validated by the “Science-Based Targets Initiative,” a non-governmental entity. Rather than helping us win the ‘new space race,’ the proposed rule would ensure NASA could do less exploration—and less science—for more taxpayer dollars.

“Earlier this year, my Republican colleagues joined me in sending a letter to you, asking you to rescind this proposed rule. Your response to that letter was, to put it mildly, underwhelming. I suspect had you received such an answer when you were sitting in this spot as this committee’s Ranking Member, you would not have been especially pleased. You know one of the big reasons you and I were successful in crafting and passing substantive, bipartisan space legislation when you were in the Senate is that we largely avoided injecting politics into the mix. I am concerned that NASA may be straying from that approach, but I’m sure we will be talking more with you as the congressional budgeting process progresses.

“It is an exciting time for space exploration, one with great potential but also great challenges. It is critical that we maintain our leadership in space as China and other countries seek to supplant us, and I’m confident that if we stay focused, we can. To quote the legendary Gene Kranz, ‘what America will dare, America will do.’”