Status Report

On to Mars – Remarks to National Keep It Sold Reception by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

By SpaceRef Editor
May 15, 2004
Filed under , , ,
On to Mars – Remarks to National Keep It Sold Reception by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

May 4, 2004

Thank you very much. It’s an honor to be here with you again, and to see so many friendly faces.

My friends, when I stood before you here last year, it was with sadness and with a desperate hope.

The tragic loss of the Columbia and its crew was fresh on our minds. I asked you to keep the faith – and to have hope.

I asked you as you made your Hill visits, talking to Members, Senators and staff to inspire us.

You did your job.

I am thrilled to stand before you today in a new era. The morning is here. We are on the edge of a tremendous voyage!

Since I last stood before National Keep It Sold, the president has laid out an incredibly ambitious, bold plan that redefines our space program and launches us into a new era, leading the world on a journey of exploration.

As I said, you did your job. But your work is far from done.

At no time in the history of America’s mission in space has our responsibility been greater than at this moment.

For rarely in the lives of men and nations do moments like this arise — when history intersects with destiny, and a single decision carries with it the future of our national life.

And yet here we are.

After years of uncertainty in our space program, years of criticism, amid a perception of drift, we have reached our crossroads.

The president has delivered to the nation a vision for the future — a vision of robust exploration, human space flight, a shuttle returned to flight, a completed station conducting cutting-edge research – all driving America toward a single red dot in the night sky, 50 million miles from earth.

It is a vision of singular courage and clarity.

In a time of war, budget deficits, and looming entitlement crises, the president has given NASA a new mission, the most dangerous and difficult ever attempted by mankind.

It is the vision we have been waiting our whole lives for.

Predictably, powerful forces have aligned against you, opposed in practice and in principle to the president’s vision.

These forces are vocal and well-connected.

Some of you may have learned firsthand during Hill visits today that our job is not easy.

Critics question the president’s timing.

They question his budget numbers, his priorities, and his public support.

When they question him, ladies and gentlemen, they question us.

Do we have an answer?

Do we have the will to convince Congress and our country to once again embrace these challenges, in John F. Kennedy’s words, “not because they are easy, but because they are hard”?

Of course we do.

When they ask, “Isn’t it too expensive?,”

We say, “It’s a bargain.”

Previous generations of human space flight have returned to earth technologies and knowledge that have changed the way this nation works, communicates, treats illness, and defends itself.

When they ask, “Isn’t it too dangerous?,”

We say, “Of course it’s dangerous.”

But it wasn’t too dangerous for Armstrong or Glenn.

And it wasn’t too dangerous for Fincke and Padalka, who just arrived at the international space station last week.

And it wasn’t too dangerous for the 11 new astronaut candidates who will be formally introduced this week.

When critics ask, “Isn’t it the wrong time to set such ambitious goals?”

We say, “This is exactly the right time.”

What a statement of national purpose — in the midst of a war and domestic challenges — that between God’s grace and human ingenuity, there is nothing in this or any other world that America cannot do.

This is who we are.

We are adventurers, braving the unknown; scientists, striving for answers; and explorers, searching for truth — Americans, inspiring our children.

That is the message, and you, ladies and gentlemen, are our messengers.

Whether our nation takes the path of strenuous endeavor or the path of ignoble ease is in large part in your hands.

That’s your job, and this is your moment.

You are the heart, soul, and mind of America’s mission in space, and without you, that mission will fail.

For if America is to lead the world, ladies and gentlemen, you must take this opportunity this week… to lead America.

And through the noise of skepticism and cynicism, shout out as exclamation points in a sea of question marks.

You’ve done it before.

Stand with confidence on the shoulders of the giants who came before you and make your voices heard over the din with a simple message of courage and clarity:

Return to flight! Complete the station! Back to the moon! And on to Mars!

Finally, I’ve been asked to invite all the members of Congress in attendance tonight to join me on the stage for the unveiling.

As you may or may not know, National Keep It Sold is so committed to the president’s vision that it is incorporating that vision into its new identity.

For the first time, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the new standard in national grassroots aerospace advocacy: Citizens for Space Exploration.

SpaceRef staff editor.