- Press Release
- Nov 30, 2022
Statement by Sen. Nelson: NASA at a Crossroads: Reasserting American Leadership in Space Exploration
Good afternoon, and thank you, Senator Cruz, for calling this hearing. I greatly appreciate our coming together to work toward a bill that will keep NASA moving forward in an exciting and productive manner.
It’s notable that July 20th, one week from today, marks the 40th anniversary of the first landing on Mars by NASA’s Viking 1. And the legacy of that mission, and subsequent missions to the Red Planet, is that we now know that Mars was once warm and wet and may very well have supported life. There’s even evidence of flowing water at the surface of Mars today.
In 2010, we passed a bipartisan NASA Authorization Act calling on the agency to explore beyond the Earth’s orbit, with the long term goal of a human mission to Mars.
I recently visited Stennis Space Center and the Michoud Assembly Facility on the Gulf Coast, as well as the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, and I can tell that progress toward that goal is real. We also have Orion at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida being prepared for its first journey beyond the moon. We are going to Mars, and the rockets and engines and spacecraft that are the building blocks of that mission are being assembled and tested right now!
And if all continues to go well, by the end of next year, we will once again have American astronauts launching to space from Florida soil on American rockets, thanks to the partnerships NASA has forged with SpaceX and Boeing.
It is truly an exciting time for our space program.
This committee has always worked in a non-partisan manner, and I am pleased to be a part of continuing that tradition in this Congress as we work toward advancing and passing a NASA reauthorization.
Thank you all for being here, and I look forward to your testimony.