Senators explore politics around space exploration

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) – It may be years before we see humans on Mars, but with mega-rich CEOs and former TV stars soaring into space, it’s clear that the space exploration is evolving. In Washington, lawmakers are focused on how to ensure the United States can continue to lead while working with public and private partners around the world.

The United States wants to return to the moon by 2024. This is a goal set by the Trump administration and reaffirmed by the Biden administration. But there is a lot going on behind the scenes to achieve that goal, and lawmakers on Thursday explored the policy regarding space exploration.

In a Senate hearing led by Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO), former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told senators that NASA needs Congress to pass an authorization bill . It’s something Congress is supposed to do every year but hasn’t done since 2017.

Bridenstine said that without the assurances provided by the authorization, as well as consistency between presidential administrations, international partners could look to countries like China for leadership in space exploration.

Bridenstine said, “I’m not saying China shouldn’t have a space station, it should. But what I’m saying is that the United States of America needs to make sure that we do what is necessary to lead.

Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) helped lead the hearing with Hickenlooper and highlighted how China’s growing space program recently tested a nuclear-capable rocket that circled the world in low orbit. Lummis said the test shows that China is unable to separate civilian and military objectives for space, and that China’s progress becomes a greater threat.

Lummis said: “We have to work to avoid a Cold War style space race. Unfortunately, it seems that some countries are less committed in this regard. “

The audience focused on the bipartisan desire of the United States to continue to play a leading role in space exploration, which includes working with other countries and with private companies.

Hickenlooper said a return to the moon, a mission to Mars, the construction of a new space station – or any other US space advancement – is a big deal for Colorado, home to many players in the aerospace industry. .

Hickenlooper said, “Whether you’re talking about Colorado Springs or Grand Junction, there are small companies, big companies, dealing with the issues necessary to make sure a space station is functioning successfully.”

A NASA authorization bill disagrees over the role private companies should play in people-to-moon landing missions.

Thursday’s hearing was originally scheduled to be held in Colorado Springs, Colorado in August, but was delayed due to Senator Hickenlooper’s positive COVID test.

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