Ted Cruz on NASA: ‘We Should Once Again Lead the Way for the World in Space Exploration’

Erich Schlegel/Getty Images/AFP
Erich Schlegel/Getty Images/AFP

When it was announced that Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) would chair the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Space, and Competitiveness – thus putting him in a position to oversee NASA – the heads of many dim-bulb liberal celebrities popped.

Howls of outrage were heard from has-been actors who once had parts in science-fiction TV shows, thus making them experts on actual space exploration.  A petition was started at the White House website asking President Obama to remove Cruz from the committee, thus demonstrating that these people know even less about civics than they do about space travel.

The shrieking was particularly intense from the Church of Global Warming, which regards NASA as one of its cathedrals.  Headline writers went out of their way to identify Cruz as a “climate-change denier” or “foe of NASA and science.”  As with much the Left does, this chorus of sneers and scowls was meant to reinforce their illusions of superiority.  It is an article of faith for them that liberals are smart, while conservatives are stupid; in fact, almost all of their sense of self-worth is bound up in their notion of politics as an expression of character, which necessarily makes politics an expression of intelligence.  Never mind that Ted Cruz has written dozens of Supreme Court briefs – let someone who used to get paid for wearing a funny costume tell you what a dunderhead he is!

Needless to say, the normal politically-correct rules of engagement that would punish white writers for insulting the intelligence of an accomplished Hispanic-American were set aside.

Cruz’s statement on his appointment announced his plans to “focus NASA on its core mission: exploring space, and more of it.”  NASA focus on space exploration? Why, that’s just the kind of crazy talk you’d expect from an anti-science caveman!

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy laid down a marker for space exploration that inspired a generation of Americans to reach for the stars, recognizing that the race to the heavens was nothing less than a crucial front in the battle between freedom and tyranny.

More than 50 years later, we have lost sight of that clarion call. Russia’s status as the current gatekeeper of the International Space Station could threaten our capability to explore and learn, stunting our capacity to reach new heights and share innovations with free people everywhere. The United States should work alongside our international partners, but not be dependent on them. We should once again lead the way for the world in space exploration.

Texas has a major stake in space exploration. Our space program marks the frontier of future technologies for defense, communications, transportation and more, and our mindset should be focused on NASA’s primary mission: exploring space and developing the wealth of new technologies that stem from its exploration. And commercial space exploration presents important new opportunities for us all. We must refocus our investment on the hard sciences, on getting men and women into space, on exploring low-Earth orbit and beyond, and not on political distractions that are extraneous to NASA’s mandate. I am excited to raise these issues in our subcommittee and look forward to producing legislation that confirms our shared commitment to this vital mission.

Among those who endorsed Cruz’s chairmanship was Apollo 7 astronaut Walter Cunningham: “I’m pleased to hear that Senator Cruz will be chairing the important Subcommittee on Science and Space. In our discussions he has always a shown a strong interest in furthering the core goals of NASA and Johnson Space Center. He wants NASA to return to the scientific and exploration standards that enabled our country to win the space race.”  But who seriously thinks an astronaut would know more about space exploration than Hollywood actors and lefty pundits?

In an interview with the Houston ChronicleCruz expressed his support for the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft program, which he described as “critical to our medium- and long-term ability to explore space, whether it is the Moon, Mars, or beyond.”

He also expressed concern about the United States falling behind Russia in low-earth-orbit launch capability, saying that “America should have the capacity to launch a rescue mission to the [International Space Station] without the assistance of the Russians,” and we should likewise be able to put critical satellites in orbit without needing Russian rocket engines.  He endorsed commercial space travel, praising the economic benefits that flow from private-sector exploitation of technologies developed by NASA.

“There’s no limit to human imagination or to the desire for exploration,” said Cruz.  “Every one of us has looked up at the night sky and wondered what lies out there.  America has always led the way in space exploration, and we need to reclaim that leadership.”

None of that sounds like the budget-cutting, science-hating troglodyte of liberal caricature.  Would any of Cruz’s hysterical liberal critics like to explain how their revered hero JFK would disagree with him?  It seems likely that President Kennedy would also have worried about falling behind Russia in vital space-launch capabilities, don’t you think?

Insisting on greater focus and better management of resources from NASA, and every other government agency, is hardly antithetical to scientific development and exploration – on the contrary, nothing has been worse for such efforts that wasteful spending, mission creep, and the politicization of science.  Cutting budget flab and refocusing efforts on NASA’s true priorities will save the agency, not destroy it.

It might seem odd for left-wingers devoted to de-industrializing the Western world, reverting it to a more “sustainable,” and primitive, low-energy state, to claim they worship NASA, to the point of reflexively going into convulsions at the notion of a budget-conscious limited-government conservative gaining influence over it.  That’s part of the contradiction inherent to modern liberalism.  Their notion of “cool” involves a tech fetish wholly at odds with their environmentalist wing, not to mention their anti-corporate ideology – thus the spectacle of Occupy Wall Street protesters banging out Marxist screeds on their iPads.  They think they can have their cake and eat it too, and it will be free cake, too.  But the cake is a lie.

Science fiction only becomes technological fact with hard work and discipline.  Resources, both human and financial, are not infinite.  Core missions will never be properly addressed if they are set aside for political frivolities.  Senator Cruz has a terrific opportunity to connect with the tech world through NASA, and that’s a community Republicans need to make inroads with.  We’ve been to the Moon before.  Mars is doable, and as Cruz mentioned, even Mars is not the outer limit of human endeavor.  The ship that takes us there will not be fueled by wishful thinking, or deficit dollars.


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