Chairwoman Johnson’s Opening Statement for Legacy of Apollo Hearing

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is holding a full Committee hearing titled, “The Legacy of Apollo.” Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s (D-TX) opening statement for the record is below.

Good morning, and welcome to today’s hearing on “The Legacy of Apollo.” I want to thank each of our distinguished witnesses for their participation, and I look forward to your testimony.

As some of you may know, today is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, and this hearing is starting about the time the three astronauts reached Earth orbit before heading off to the Moon. It is fitting that we hold this hearing. Our Committee was established in direct response to the challenge of Sputnik, and our predecessors on this Committee played an important role in authorizing and maintaining support for the Apollo program.

What is the legacy of Apollo? It is a question to which there have been a multiplicity of responses over the years, and our witnesses will be offering their own thoughtful perspectives for our consideration.

As the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing approach has drawn closer, there have been numerous stories and historical anecdotes that have captured the media’s attention, which is a testimony to the enduring fascination Americans have with this unique moment in our history. Each of these stories has shone a light on a different aspect of the Apollo program’s impact, whether it be something as specific as helping speed the development and widespread use of integrated circuits, to something as broad as the positive geopolitical image the United States gained in the aftermath of the Apollo 11 landing.

To me, these are all important legacies of Apollo. But I think that there are also more intangible impacts that need to be recognized when we think of Apollo. Namely, there is the oft-cited inspirational value that Apollo and our space program overall had on inspiring a generation to seek careers in STEM fields. They may not have wound up working at NASA, but they made meaningful contributions across a range of disciplines in the following decades. And most fundamentally, there is the proof that the Apollo program offered that this nation is capable of great accomplishments when we share a common goal and a willingness to commit the resources needed to achieve it.  

Apollo was a unique accomplishment at a unique time in our nation’s history. We should take great pride in it, but we should also take it as a demonstration of what we are capable of as a nation. If we will work together to harness the spirit and inspiration of Apollo to address the other daunting challenges that we face as Americans, that may be the best and most consequential of Apollo’s legacies to this generation.

I am entering two letters for the record. One is from Margaret Hamilton, who led the team that developed the Apollo on-board flight software for both the Command Module and Lunar Module. The other letter is from the Aerospace Industries Association, an association of aerospace and defense companies. Many of its industry members worked on the Apollo program.

With that, I yield to Ranking Member Lucas for his opening statement.

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