Senator Hutchison Statement at Hearing on Nation’s Path from LEO to Mars

September 12, 2012

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, today made the following statement at the hearing, “The Path from LEO to Mars”:

“Thank you very much Mr. Chairman and I am so looking forward to hearing from you. I actually hoped we would have one more hearing because I do want to look toward the future and I think one of the things we’ve been missing here is the protection of the future, not just always going as far we have to go right now, but making sure that we look to the future and when the Curiosity landed, I saw for the first time, really, in a long time that enthusiasm of America, just seeing the precision of that long, long trip and that landing. It showed that we really can conquer so much more.

“And so I wanted to have this hearing and the Chairman wanted to have this hearing to highlight what is the future and maybe we can eke out one more hearing. But we have been a wonderful partnership in assuring that NASA is not undercut so severely that we can’t keep our pre-eminence.

“And if you would give me one moment, I also want to say that this is 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s speech at Rice University where he laid out the wonderful vision and I would just like to take one little quote from there. He said ‘but why some say the moon. Why choose this as our goal and they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why 35 years ago fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas in football?’ and then he goes on to say ‘We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and not to do the other things because they are easy, but because they are hard.’

“And that inspiration that President Kennedy gave us must be continued and it has been my goal and I hope that as we have been looking towards that next step, beyond low Earth orbit, onto other parts of our space including Mars, I hope that you will fashion that vision.

“So, thank you Mr. Chairman. Thank you for all that you do in this regard and I will end by saying that tomorrow we’re going to honor the first man that stepped on the moon and I know we both plan to be there because Neil Armstrong stood up last year when he too was worried that we might be sacrificing the future for the present. And as shy as he was about publicity, he took a stand and I think that made a huge difference in the course that we have been able to take. So, with that, I want to hear from our witnesses. Thank you.”