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Sen. Cruz: It Would Be Irresponsible for the U.S. to Prematurely End the Life of the International Space Station Before Maximizing American Taxpayer Investment

Emphasizes strong bipartisan support in hearing examining the future of the International Space Station

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, today chaired a second hearing examining the future role of the International Space Station (ISS). In the hearing Sen. Cruz questioned Ms. Cynthia Bouthot, Director of Commercial Innovation & Sponsored Programs at the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space; Mr. Jim Chilton, Senior Vice President, Space and Launch at The Boeing Company; Mr. Bob Mitchell, President of Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership and Mr. Michael Suffredini, Chief Executive Officer and President at Axiom Space. During the hearing, witnesses discussed the value of the ISS to our national space program and the future of human exploration. 

Sen. Cruz has been a leading advocate for the continued operation and utilization of the ISS, and has expressed opposition to proposals that would end federal funding in 2025, because it would be ‘irresponsible not to get the maximum return from that investment and to extend the life of it as long as scientifically feasible.’ 

Watch Sen. Cruz’s opening statement in its entirety here. The full transcript of the senator’s opening statement is available below:

“This hearing is called to order. Welcome to all the witnesses, thank you for being here.

“Today’s hearing is the second in a series of hearings focused on the future of the International Space Station.

“During the previous hearing, this subcommittee received testimony from government witnesses who cast considerable doubt on the Administration’s proposal to end federal support of the International Space Station in 2025. 

“In our hearing, not only did NASA confirm that the International Space Station has operational life through at least 2028, if not longer, but NASA’s Inspector General raised significant concerns that it is not only quite ‘unlikely that a private entity or entities would assume the station’s annual operating costs’ but also ‘any assumption that ending direct federal funding would free up $3 billion to $4 billion in 2025 for use on other NASA initiatives is wishful thinking’.”

“I agree with the concerns that NASA’s Inspector General has raised to this subcommittee. The concerns and the confirmation from NASA that the ISS has operational life well beyond 2025 should not be taken lightly by members of this committee or by the National Space Council.

“American taxpayers have invested roughly $100 billion in the International Space Station and it is my firm belief that it would be irresponsible for the United States government to prematurely end the life of the International Space Station before maximizing American taxpayer investment. We should not throw away that very significant investment of resources from the taxpayers and also from our allies.

“It is concerning that some have argued during this debate that the rationale for ending direct funding of the ISS is that the United States cannot afford both continued ISS operations and deep space exploration at the same time. I disagree that this is an ‘either-or’ decision, and Congress has demonstrated a strong bipartisan commitment to NASA and to our human spaceflight programs through significant increases in appropriations over the last several fiscal years to ensure both a healthy low Earth orbit and deep space exploration program. 

“What’s clear is we cannot afford to continue to pursue policies that have the consequences of creating gaps in capability or that send $3.5 billion in taxpayer money to the Russian government, because we failed to plan to have adequate tools to reach low Earth orbit, nor can we create a leadership vacuum in low Earth orbit that provides a window of opportunity for the Chinese to capitalize upon as they look to have an operational space station in low Earth orbit in 2022. 

“As long as I am chairman of the Space subcommittee, the ISS will continue to have strong and bipartisan support in the United States Senate. The past several years we’ve passed two major pieces of space legislation, working cooperatively, Republicans and Democrats in support of space. One that was signed by President Obama and one that was signed by President Trump.

“The purpose of today’s hearing is to receive testimony from non-governmental ISS stakeholders who can provide Congress with their first-hand experience interacting with the ISS and what the impact would be for commercial stakeholders, even those looking at building a successor to the ISS, which we will need one day but we should not prematurely disregard the investment we have made into it. 

“I look forward to our witnesses’ testimony and will now recognize our subcommittee’s ranking member, Senator Markey, for his opening statement.” 

Watch the full hearing here.


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