SUPPORT THE MANNED SPACE FLIGHT PROGRAM — (House of Representatives – May 17, 2001)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. WELDON ) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. WELDON of Florida. Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to be able to rise today and speak in support of our Nation’s manned space flight program.

Most Americans are aware of the tremendous work that is done on a daily basis by the men and women who work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Many of the contractors and educators that are involved, and the people who are working in the program today, are some of the same people who have been involved with it for many years or they stand on the shoulders of those who began in the early days of the program, from Mercury to Gemini, Apollo to Sky Lab, the Shuttle program, and
now the new International Space Station currently orbiting the Earth today with a crew of three, hopefully someday soon to be able to grow to a crew of six.

The space program, in many ways, has been emblematic in the United States of the technological prowess and our expertise in science; but it is more than that I think for America’s culture. I think burning in the heart of every American is the pioneer spirit, the pioneer spirit that settled this Nation, the pioneer spirit that caused many of our ancestors to come to the United States to try to carve out a better way of life. But I really think it is something that burns in the hearts and minds
of all human beings everywhere; to explore the unknown or to go to a new place. And while there are many places on this planet we call our home, planet Earth, that remain to be explored, areas like Antarctica and the bottoms of our oceans, truly the realm of outerspace is the limitless area of exploration.

In many ways today we are in our first baby steps in these programs, like the space station program, where we are just learning the basics of how to live and do business and to operate in the environment of space . I think it is something that we must do and we must continue to do. I believe that were we, as Americans, to abandon our space program, to abandon manned space flight would be to turn our back on the very essence of what makes us Americans and our desire to research the unknown and
discover new places.

I talk to teachers all over this country; and they tell me over and over again, when they are dealing with their students and they are trying to motivate them and encourage them to study areas of math and science, and I think my colleague from Texas, who was a teacher, will speak later and verify this from his own experience as a teacher, there is nothing that excites our kids more to study in these critical areas of math and science than our space program. This is an area where the United States
needs to be doing more.

When I travel around my congressional district, the Space Coast of Florida, the Treasure Coast, I hear over and over again from businessmen, people who are trying to start new companies, that one of the most difficult things they face is to find people who are properly trained in engineering or sciences; that we are just not turning out enough of them. So it is critical that we keep our young people motivated. And the teachers all over America tell us that one of the things that motivates them
the most to studying in the realm of the math and science fields is the space program.

They tell me that they can actually take the material that they are being taught in the classroom and apply that to how we go about the process of exploring space and living in space ; and, furthermore, that that in turn can help us raise up a new generation of scientists and engineers that will help us to explore the unknown.

Finally, let me additionally say another good reason we need to be in space is just the whole realm of spinoffs. Most Americans are not familiar with the fact that much of the technology involving pacemakers and prosthetic devices, like prosthetic hips, the material science involved in that are direct spinoffs from our space program. Indeed, there is a company in my congressional district that is developing a product that could cause every air-conditioning unit in the United States to run 15
percent more efficiently, which is a direct spinoff from our space program.

I have actually been told if this product proves to be as successful as it is anticipated to be that that improvement in efficiency in the air-conditioning units in homes and businesses all across America would more than save enough money to pay for our entire space program, from its very beginnings from the early days of Mercury right through to the present.

So there is a lot going on in space , there is a lot of future there, and I believe every American supports what our men and women are doing in the space program. I rise today to congratulate all those working in this field and encourage all of my colleagues in the House to continue to
support our manned space flight program.