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Bipartisan Cruz, Sinema, Wicker, Cantwell NASA Authorization Act of 2019 Unanimously Passed by Senate Commerce Committee

November 13, 2019

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202-228-7561

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously passed NASA Authorization Act of 2019, bipartisan legislation led by U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) that provides the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) the clear direction needed to advance our nation's space initiatives and investments and assert the United States' global leadership in the final frontier.

Expanding upon the bipartisan legislation Sen. Cruz in December 2018, the NASA Authorization Act of 2019 fortifies American strength and leadership in space around the world and supports the critical role of Texas and the historic Johnson Space Center (JSC) in human flight and space exploration. As Sen. Cruz said in committee markup:

"As chairman of the Space Subcommittee, late last year I introduced bipartisan legislation to establish a legislative marker that would guide our efforts in the 116th Congress and continue our nation's bold vision for science and space exploration.

"I'm proud to say that with our bipartisan work, the NASA Authorization Act of 2019 does just that.

"Not only will this legislation help ensure that Americans safely return to the moon and establish a sustainable human presence on the moon, it will help ensure that the United States maintains dominance in low-Earth orbit by creating an environment for continuous human presence there through and beyond the life of the International Space Station. [...]

"As a lifelong Houstonian, I'm also proud to say that taking these steps will help continue and ensure the historic Johnson Space Center -the JSC - continues its legacy as the crown jewel of human space exploration.

He added:

"This legislation also extends the life of the International Space Station - and the mission control team at the JSC that supports it - through 2030. [...]

"Continuing the operation of the ISS through 2030 will help grow our already burgeoning space economy, which has helped create jobs for more than 50,000 people in my home state of Texas and more than 200,000 people across the nation."

Sen. Cruz's full statement may be viewed here and below:

"Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to start by thanking you, Chairman Wicker, as well as Senator Cantwell and Senator Sinema, for working together once again on bipartisan legislation, in this case, the NASA Authorization Act of 2019. I want to thank all of our colleagues for taking up and unanimously passing this important bipartisan bill.

"As we look out over our space landscape today, what we see is very different from the landscape in 1969.

"Indeed, not only did we succeed in sending humans to the Moon and bringing them back safely to Earth, but we've gone on to put robotic rovers on distant planets, celestial observatories in orbit that can literally peer into the beginnings of the universe, and we've established an enduring human presence in low-Earth orbit.

"In the span of a single lifetime, we have seen space go from an uninhabited void or a scientific novelty to an integral part of daily lives as a result of American innovation and ingenuity.

"Together, our country has pushed humans further than they've ever gone before - and we have no intention of stopping now.

"As chairman of the Space Subcommittee, late last year I introduced bipartisan legislation to establish a legislative marker that would guide our efforts in the 116th Congress and continue our nation's bold vision for science and space exploration.

"I'm proud to say that with our bipartisan work, the NASA Authorization Act of 2019 does just that.

"Not only will this legislation help ensure that Americans safely return to the moon and establish a sustainable human presence on the moon, it will help ensure that the United States maintains dominance in low-Earth orbit by creating an environment for continuous human presence there through and beyond the life of the International Space Station.

"This will enable us to use low-Earth orbit as a test bed to advance human space exploration, further scientific discoveries, truly commercialize space in low-Earth orbit and beyond, and protect our national and economic security interests by continuing to be the default partner in human spaceflight for international partners.

"As a lifelong Houstonian, I'm also proud to say that taking these steps will help continue and ensure the historic Johnson Space Center -the JSC - continues its legacy as the crown jewel of human space exploration.

"Furthermore, this legislation was designed specifically to make America's dreams of putting the first boots on Mars a reality. It authorizes the use of intermediate destinations, like the moon, as part of a stepping stone approach to putting humans on the Red Planet, requiring NASA to use those intermediate missions to demonstrate or advance technology or operational concepts that will enable human missions to Mars.

"It also requires NASA to undertake a robust human research program on what space and deep space exploration does to the astronauts physically, and develop ways to mitigate adverse effects. And it requires NASA to begin undertaking science missions to Mars with the goal of selecting a site for human landing.

"This legislation also extends the life of the International Space Station - and the mission control team at the JSC that supports it - through 2030. The ISS has been a remarkable success for the United States, not only as it relates to international cooperation and participation, but also the areas of unique and novel scientific experimentation, the testing of new space technologies for future human exploration, as a proving ground for the commercialization of space, and for projecting American strength and leadership in space around the world.

"Continuing the operation of the ISS through 2030 will help grow our already burgeoning space economy, which has helped create jobs for more than 50,000 people in my home state of Texas and more than 200,000 people across the nation.

"So again, I want to thank my colleagues for their cooperation and hard work putting this bill together. We can all be proud of this bipartisan legislation.

"And I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues here in the Committee and in the rest of the Senate, and to hopefully getting the House engaged on this important effort as well so that we can pass the NASA Authorization Act of 2019 and send it to the president's desk for signature."

Read the full text of the bill here.


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