The Cold War served as the impetus for the space race of the 1960s and as such inspired our nation to make the collective sacrifice to provide the resources needed to put a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth. We accomplished that feat, and won the Cold War, but we cannot lose sight of the worthiness of the accomplishment not just in the context of the Cold War, but in human history.
However, the leadership role we have played for more than 50 years in human spaceflight may soon be lost if we do not continue to invest in exploration.
Li Xueyong, China’s vice minister of science and technology, heralded that nation’s space program recently by telling reporters: “Our success shows not only the progress of the space program but also our overall level of science and technology.”
His stated goal was to close the gap between his country and Western countries as far as technology goes. He remarked that “a space program represents a country’s high technology.” If the United States fails to make the proper investments in our human spaceflight program, we will make it all the easier for China and other nations to close that gap.
China is not alone at looking to the stars, and to the Moon in particular, as a destination and as a means to show the world they are equal to the United States in technology.
Americans went to the Moon peacefully on behalf of all of mankind, but it was American ingenuity, innovations and funding that got them there and back.
Today I’m as confident as ever that the same ingenuity and commitment to innovation exist in our nation, and as such I’m excited about what future lies ahead. Now if only we had the funding to match the commitment.
Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas)
Ranking Member, House Science and Technology space and aeronautics