Sun. Sep 25th, 2022
sen.  Ted Cruz, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine and U.S. Representative Brian Babin face a proven Falcon 9 rocket at Space Center Houston on Sunday.
enlarge sen. Ted Cruz, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine and U.S. Representative Brian Babin face a proven Falcon 9 rocket at Space Center Houston on Sunday.

Houston Space Center

While the saying probably comes from one of the greatest Roman historians, Tacitus, President John F. Kennedy popularized the phrase, “Success has a hundred fathers, and defeat is an orphan.” This aphorism can be applied to commercial space now that SpaceX has successfully launched two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station on a Falcon 9 rocket in Dragonship Attempt

Since this flight, several congressional leaders have begun to talk more about commercial space, an approach in which private companies invest in their own hardware, own their vehicle and sell services to NASA. Prior to Dragon’s flight, no private spacecraft had ever put humans into orbit — only major government space programs in the United States, Russia and China had done it. Now private companies like SpaceX are demonstrating their capabilities.

U.S. Representative Brian Babin, a Texas Republican whose district houses the Johnson Space Center, praised SpaceX and its performance after Dragon’s flight. “Congratulations to SpaceX, who never stopped, and who really revolutionized the launch business and reduced costs,” he said. “These will be a great boon to our space program going forward.”

Babin and one of two US Senators from Texas, Ted Cruz, spoke with NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine on Sunday at Space Center Houston, shortly after Dragon docked at the space station. Babin said public-private partnerships have the potential to save the nation significant money after so much has been spent on the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery.

“We have to be very good federal spending managers and spouses,” he said. “So I think the public-private partnership will be a great boon to this program, and the way forward. It’s the wave of the future, no doubt about it. The dollars that the government would spend to to do all on their own, would be priceless.”

Using commercial space

Even before Dragon’s flight, Cruz was seen as one of the more pro-commercial space senators. However, he said the success seen this weekend bolstered his commitment to using public and private funds for further human exploration to the moon and eventually Mars.

“It’s going to cost billions and even trillions of dollars,” Cruz said. “Much more resources will be needed than there is taxpayer money to spend. By leveraging commercial space we can realize multiples of 5x, 10x, 20x or 100x of investment in the space. As a demonstration of that, look no further than yesterday and today. The rocket that took off was not a US government rocket. It was a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that took off and landed on a drone ship. What an incredible technological innovation. What a cost-effective innovation.”

While NASA is looking for a human landing system to take astronauts from lunar orbit to the moon’s surface in the 2020s, Bridenstine has pushed for such a public-private approach. In NASA’s Artemis Moon program, he would like the space agency to become a customer of a lander rather than its owner. Some in Congress have withdrawn, including Oklahoma Democrat Kendra Horn, whose legislation HR 5666 would require NASA to manage and own the lander.

Asked about this bill, which is still pending before a House committee, Cruz said it does not represent where Congress stands on commercial space.

“The House law you are referring to is unfortunate in my opinion,” he said. “I think it’s a political document. It doesn’t reflect where Congress is and it doesn’t reflect what’s going to happen. We’ll continue to see a close integration between NASA and commercial space.”

By akfire1

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