Status Report

Floor Statements by Senators Huchison and Nelson Regarding “Sense of the Senate Regarding Manned Space Flight”

By SpaceRef Editor
July 22, 2005
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Floor Statements by Senators Huchison and Nelson Regarding “Sense of the Senate Regarding Manned Space Flight”


The Senator from Texas.


Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, I send an amendment to the desk and ask for its immediate consideration.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.

The legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Texas [Mrs. Hutchison], for herself and Mr. Nelson of Florida, proposes an amendment numbered 1357.

Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The amendment is as follows:

(Purpose: To express the sense of the Senate with regard to manned space flight)

At the appropriate place, insert the following:


(a) FINDINGS.–The Congress finds that–

(1) human spaceflight preeminence allows the United States to project leadership around the world and forms an important component of United States national security;

(2) continued development of human spaceflight in low-Earth orbit, on the Moon, and beyond adds to the overall national strategic posture;

(3) human spaceflight enables continued stewardship of the region between the earth and the Moon–an area that is critical and of growing national and international security relevance;

(4) human spaceflight provides unprecedented opportunities for the United States to lead peaceful and productive international relationships with the world community in support of United States security and geo-political objectives;

(5) a growing number of nations are pursuing human spaceflight and space-related capabilities, including China and India;

(6) past investments in human spaceflight capabilities represent a national resource that can be built upon and leveraged for a broad range of purposes, including national and economic security; and

(7) the industrial base and capabilities represented by the Space Transportation System provide a critical dissimilar launch capability for the nation.

(b) SENSE OF THE SENATE.–It is the sense of the Senate that it is in the national security interest of the United States to maintain uninterrupted preeminence in human spaceflight.

Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, I rise today with my colleague, Senator Nelson of Florida, to offer an amendment expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the critical nature of human spaceflight to America’s national security.

The day after the scheduled space shuttle launch was canceled last week, there were two news items that were largely overlooked by many who were focused on what might have caused the sensor failure which was the basis for stopping the countdown to launch.

One of these was an announcement by the Chinese space agency that they planned to launch their second manned spaceflight in October aboard their Shenzhou spacecraft. The other was the announcement by the Russian space agency that they were initiating full-scale development of their clipper space vehicle, a small shuttle-like space vehicle capable of taking several people into orbit, a sort of winged supplement to their existing Soyuz launch vehicles.

Whether these announcements were calculated to remind the world that the space shuttle and the United States do not represent the only avenue by which humans can fly to space is debatable. My purpose in mentioning them, however, is to remind my colleagues that space is not the exclusive province of the United States, that there is increasing interest among technically advanced nations of the world in developing and maintaining the ability to conduct human spaceflight missions. Not all of those nations share the same values and principles as our country, and they may not have the same motivations for advancing their independent capability for human spaceflight.

Space represents the new modern definition of the high ground that has historically been a significant factor in defense strategy. Virtually all of our military actions in recent years have made dramatic use of space-based assets in conducting those important operations in the course of pursuing national security and foreign policy. Satellite targeting, surveillance and intelligence gathering, use of radio frequencies and communications all result from our ability to explore in space.

In recent years, we have witnessed a growing entrepreneurial interest in developing access to space for humans and cargo. We recently passed out of the Commerce Committee a NASA reauthorization bill which will provide guidance for our space program at a critical time, a time when we have multiple demands on limited resources.

During our consideration of this bill and during hearings, it became clear that we must think of manned spaceflight in terms of national security, as well as science and exploration. For these reasons, I believe it is important that in the context of this Defense authorization bill, we express the sense of the Senate that we recognize the important and vital role of human spaceflight in the furtherance of our national security interests, and that we reaffirm our commitment to retaining our Nation’s leadership role in the growing international human spaceflight community of nations.

Great nations discover and explore. Great nations cross oceans, settle frontiers, renew their heritage and spirits, and create greater freedom and opportunity for the world. Great nations must also remain on the front edge of technologically advanced programs to maintain their security edge.

Today we recognize one such program. We have an international outpost in space. We are on a path to establish a permanent presence on the Moon. Let us stand united to recognize the inexorable link and importance of human spaceflight in our national security.

I hope my colleagues will support this important statement that says keeping our dominance in space is a matter of national security for our country.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida.

Mr. NELSON of Florida. Mr. President, I join with my colleague, the distinguished Senator from Texas, who serves as the Chair of our Science and Space Subcommittee and of which I have the privilege of being the ranking member. The timing of this amendment is propitious because the problem on the shuttle has been found and the count will start shortly. Next Tuesday morning at 10:39 a.m., if all goes as well as we certainly hope, we will see the space shuttle launch into the Florida sky after having been down for 2 1/2 years after the mistakes that should not have been made that took down Columbia, and that 18 years earlier had taken down Challenger.

We have a new leader, Michael Griffith, and he is doing a good job. I can tell you that the team is ready and they have scrubbed this orbiter and this stack as it has never been scrubbed before. Even though spaceflight is risky business, they are ready to go. It is an acceptable risk because of the benefits we gather from it.

What this amendment does–and I want to say a word about our two colleagues who lead our Armed Services Committee who I think will accept this amendment–it simply says: It is the sense of the Senate that it is in the national interest of the United States to maintain

uninterrupted preeminence in human spaceflight.

Why? Why are we saying that? Because we could be in a posture that if the space shuttle is shut down in 2010, which is the timeline, and if we did not soon thereafter come with a new vehicle to have human access to space, the new what is called the crew exploration vehicle, which will be a follow-on–it may be in part a derivative of the shuttle stack vehicle, but it will be more like a capsule harkening back to the old days where you have a blunt end that has an ablative heat shield that will burn off in the fiery heat of reentry–that if we don’t watch out and we have a hiatus between when we shut down the space shuttle and when the new vehicle flies, one originally that was planned by NASA to be 4 years, which meant it was going to be 6, 7, or 8 years, then we don’t have an American vehicle to get into space.

If that is not bad enough, who knows what the geopolitics of planet Earth is going to be in the years 2011 to 2018. We may find that those vehicles we rely on to get today, for example, to the space station, when we are down with the American vehicle, may be aligned with somebody else. That is why we want to make sure we have that other vehicle ready about the time we shut down the space shuttle so we will have human access to this international space station and reap the benefits, once it is fully constructed, of all the experimentation and the processing of materials we can uniquely do in the microgravity of Earth’s orbit.

That is the importance, in this Senator’s mind, of this resolution.

Before I turn back to my colleague, I want to say a word about our leadership on the Armed Services Committee, and I want the Senator from Virginia to hear this. I want him to know what a great example he and the Senator from Michigan set for the rest of us in the way these two Senators work together so problems that could be so thorny are usually ironed out, especially in dealing with such matters of great importance to our country, such as the defense interests of our country.

The way they have worked this is nothing short of miraculous. I would call them Merlin the Magicians. I thank them for the leadership they have shown us.

I associate myself with remarks made earlier on the TRICARE amendment for the Guard and Reserves. So often my colleagues have heard me speak with such great pride about the Florida National Guard. They were first into Iraq. They were in Iraq before the war started because they were in there with the special operations troops. For us to give them the health care through TRICARE is exceptionally important.

I yield the floor.

Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, I thank the distinguished Senator from Florida. I am the Chair and he the ranking member on the Commerce Subcommittee on Space and Science. I so appreciate the opportunity to express this sense-of-the-Senate amendment. I hope my colleagues will support it because I do believe that human spaceflight is as much a part of our national security as anything we do. We see the preeminence we have in our military because of precision-guided missiles, because of the ability to execute surveillance and intelligence gathering to an extent we never have been able to before we explored space and were able to put satellites there.

The idea that we would consider a hiatus in our opportunities to put humans in space is one that is unacceptable to me and to my ranking member. We hope the sense-of-the-Senate amendment will be adopted to acknowledge and assure that space exploration is shown to be a part of our national security interests. It is essential that we not, in any way, ever let our eye get off that ball, that we must have dominance in space if we are going to keep our preeminence in national defense.

I thank the Chair.

Mr. NELSON of Florida. Mr. President, may I just make one further comment? It is interesting at the very time we are talking about space, we have America’s true national hero on the Senate floor, a former colleague of the Senate, John Glenn, who blazed the trail for everybody. When he climbed on that Atlas rocket, he knew there was a 20-percent chance that it was going to blow up. Yet that is the kind of risk that he took so that all of us in America that followed could have these wonderful benefits.

I want to note the presence on the floor of former Senator Glenn.


The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.

Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, first let me say how delighted that I know I am–I know every Member who is on the floor now is, and every Member would be if they were on the floor–just taking a look at a dear friend and a former colleague of ours who just walked on the floor. When John Glenn is in our presence, it lifts all of us. The way he lifted up this Nation, he still provides a great lift to each and every one of us. And his beloved wife and our beloved friend, Annie, does the same when she is at his side. So it is great to see former Senator Glenn again.

SpaceRef staff editor.