America's Leadership In Space
It has been an exciting few months for space enthusiasts everywhere. Between astronaut Mark Kelly’s return to Earth after one year in space and SpaceX’s successful booster sea landing last weekend, the space community is energized and looking towards the future.
In my role as Chairman of the Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) Subcommittee on Appropriations, I am responsible for funding the Departments of Commerce and Justice, the National Science Foundation and NASA.
NASA is one of the few federal agencies that have the ability to excite and energize the American people with their work. As the CJS Chairman, my goal is to restore the agency back to the glory days of Apollo and maintain America’s leadership in space exploration. However, the agency has faced some challenges that have made their work more difficult.
With a new president being inaugurated in January, the priorities for NASA will likely change. Since the agency’s inception, its direction has been constantly subject to the current political climate. For example, President Barack Obama shocked the space community by cancelling the Constellation program, a five-year, $9 billion effort to send astronauts back to the moon. This is a direct example of how billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted due to the start and then abrupt stop of NASA’s missions at the whim of the White House. The changing political tides not only have an economic effect, they also stunt the technological advances of the agency. For these reasons, I have introduced the Space Leadership Preservation Act.
The Space Leadership Preservation Act establishes a Board of Directors to guide the direction of NASA rather than the agency being subjected to the constantly changing goals of administrations. This bill also establishes a 10 year term for NASA’s Administrator. Both changes will stabilize the agency and allow long-term missions to come to fruition.
One of those long-term missions is a mission to Europa- the icy moon of Jupiter that could be teeming with life. This mission is particularly important not only because of what we might find underneath the thick icy shell but because a mission to Europa was included in the last two Decadal Surveys, a list of priority missions determined by experts in the science community.
As the chairman of the subcommittee that funds NASA, I will continue to do everything in my power to make sure the agency continues to grow through technological advances and research so that America’s leadership in space is unchallenged.
It is an honor and privilege to represent you and Texas in the United States House.