Sen. Cruz Delivers Introductory Remarks as Chairman of Space Force Hearing

I, chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation and Space, chaired a hearing on Tuesday titled, "The Emerging Space Environment: Operational, Technical, and Policy Challenges." As military, civil, and commercial interests and activities grow, the space domain is becoming increasingly congested, contested, and competitive. The hearing examined current approaches to civil-military coordination, cooperation, de-confliction activities, and related issues, and discussed future architectures for managing the space domain.

As the United States looks to foster the commercialization of space, return to the Moon, travel to Mars, and encourage burgeoning industries such as asteroid mining in which a small asteroid could contain rare materials such as platinum worth billions, a Space Force may well prove necessary to help provide certainty in ensuring that these efforts are successful, have longevity, and are not to be subjected to the whims of rogue or hostile nations. The importance of space to the United States will only increase in the coming years, and it is time that we recognize that reality and take concrete action to secure our supremacy in it. I look forward to hearing from out witnesses today about what those steps might look like, how we might best coordinate our actions, and how we in Congress can act to ensure that the next 50 years, and beyond, are even more consequential and impactful than the last.

My full introductory remarks may be found here and below:

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I, the first satellite, and man-made object, in space. Slightly larger than a beach ball, and with barely more on-board technology than a beach ball, the satellite orbited the Earth every 98 minutes, emitting a ‘beeping' radio beacon that was picked up and re-broadcast in news reports all over the world. Although Sputnik would orbit the Earth for only 96 days-transmitting for only 21 of them, it was a pivotal moment in our nation's history that led to the ensuing space race, which put men on the moon and robotic rovers on distant planets, and it fundamentally changed the course of human history.

It is fitting that this year, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission that put those first men on the moon, we find ourselves deeply engaged in discussions about the future of space. From efforts to foster the growth of the commercial space sector, to the return of American astronauts to the Moon in the next few years, to the creation of a Space Force, the space domain is more active than ever. The next 50 years in space have the potential to be even more consequential than the last 50 years, but this will require a serious, sober look at the road ahead of us.

As we look out over the space landscape today, what we see is far different from the landscape of 1969. America and the Soviet Union are no longer the only players in space. Government space programs are no longer the only game in town. And our technological capabilities, both in terms of our ability to plan missions and what we are able to put in space and for how long, are, for better and for worse, exponentially greater than they were when the space race began.

No longer is space just an uninhabited void or scientific novelty. From GPS and communications satellites to weather and imaging satellites, space has become an integral part of the world economy and of our everyday lives. It has become both the next frontier of exploration and of international commerce and economic growth. By some estimates, the space sector will grow to nearly $3 trillion in value in the next three decades alone. It is also my belief that the world's first trillionaire will be made in space. As commercial entities develop new capabilities for space-many of which were inconceivable even a few short years ago-and the government continues to leverage the commercial sector for launch services and exploration technology, the theoretical threats are becoming a reality.

We have to forthrightly acknowledge that space has also become a domain of military completion. From the development and testing of anti-satellite missiles, to the possible deployment of space-based weapons systems, the threats we face-to our burgeoning commercial space sector, our civil space exploration efforts, and to our national defense-are real, and it is long past time for the United States to act. Since the ancient Greeks first put to sea, nations have recognized the necessity of naval forces and maintaining a superior capability to protect waterborne travel and commerce from bad actors. Pirates threatened the open seas and the same is possible in space. In this same way, we too must now recognize the necessity of a Space Force to defend the nation and to protect space commerce and civil space exploration.

As the United States looks to foster the commercialization of space, return to the Moon, travel to Mars, and encourage burgeoning industries such as asteroid mining in which a small asteroid could contain rare materials such as platinum worth billions, a Space Force may well prove necessary to help provide certainty in ensuring that these efforts are successful, have longevity, and are not to be subjected to the whims of rogue or hostile nations.

The importance of space to the United States will only increase in the coming years, and it is time that we recognize that reality and take concrete action to secure our supremacy in it. I look forward to hearing from out witnesses today about what those steps might look like, how we might best coordinate our actions, and how we in Congress can act to ensure that the next 50 years, and beyond, are even more consequential and impactful than the last.

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