Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz has been a vocal supporter of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and while he wants the U.S. to make it to Mars, he doesn’t think taxes will cover all the funding.
“We’ve seen NASA budgets in recent years increasing, and increasing substantially, but we’re never going to have sufficient taxpayer money to fund what needs to be done in space unless we can leverage billions and billions of dollars from the private sector,” Cruz said, Ars Technica reported Wednesday. “That’s how we get the resources that are really needed to conquer the next frontier.”
The private sector, according to Cruz, must play a pivotal role in defining a new generation — one that gets humankind to Earth’s neighbor, Mars. Cruz says the private sector will be able to innovate in ways that publicly funded programs can’t because of the competitive angle on the private side.
“The innovation that we’re seeing from SpaceX and from private companies across the board is much of the reason for the optimism we see concerning space,” Cruz said after a ceremony at Houston’s Johnson Space Center on Friday announcing the nine astronauts who will fly aboard NASA’s first commercial crew missions.
“We need competition and entrepreneurs inventing and innovating. You know, just a few years ago the concept of reusable rockets, rockets that could land and be used again, would have seemed like science fiction,” he added. “Now we’re seeing that done. That’s the kind of innovation it’s going to take to get to Mars and beyond, and it is only through robust competition in the private sector that we’ll see that happen.”
In a hearing on July 25, Cruz, along with Republican and Democratic senators on Senate space subcommittee, insisted that NASA’s human spaceflight program should aim for Mars — not the Moon, as President Donald Trump wants.
“Mars is today the focal point of our national space program. And if American boots are to be the first to set foot on its surface, it will define a new generation. Generation Mars,” Cruz, who is running for re-election in November said at the hearing.
Texas is home to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center, where human spaceflight training, flight control and research are conducted.
Cruz has been a vocal supporter of space programs, saying there is a strong bipartisan backing for them. In a hearing May 16, he slammed a “deeply troubling” proposal supported then by Trump’s administration to cut funding to the International Space Station (ISS). (RELATED: Watchdog: US Needs To Make Its Own Space Shuttle And Stop Bumming Rides Off Russia)
“As long as Article 1 of the Constitution remains in tact, it will be Congress that is the final arbiter of how long ISS receives federal funding,” Cruz said. “Nowhere in federal statute is there a request from Congress seeking a hard deadline to end federal support for ISS.”
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