Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

The Space Program

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CARTER. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate being recognized for this hour. I am real pleased to be joined by several of my colleagues.

I want to raise an issue that is of real concern to the people of the State of Texas, the State of Alabama, the State of Florida, those who have, for now, generations almost, been invested in and proud of that great American accomplishment of our space program.

We are an exceptional people, and there is an awful lot of people these days that seem to be ashamed of our exceptionalism. But one of the things that we have been exceptional in since its inception is our space program. I can remember, as a young teenager, when the Russians put Sputnik bleeping over the top of my house in Houston, Texas. And we all stood out in the backyard and watched that thing with its little flashing light going across and thought, Oh, my Lord, the Russians are in space and we are not there. What are we going to do?

But being the exceptional people that Americans are, we put our nose to the grindstone and our brains to work, and in a very short time we met the pledge that President Kennedy made that we would put a man on the Moon in the next decade. So we went from behind the eight ball and watching the Russians have the first satellite in space to manned spaceflight and a trip to the Moon on multiple occasions. In fact, we have had a movie about one of the Moon trips that almost ended in disaster.

We've been open and obvious that we have taken the greatest minds that we could put together in our space program. And at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, we all in Houston, Texas, and in the State of Texas have been proud of the fact of our space shuttles, of our space station that we, along with the new free enterprise Russians, have put together in outer space. Amazingly enough, we have just finally completed the space station the way it was conceived as it was started. It's all been done in small portions, putting it together. Now it's finished.

And now we have a new administration who has decided that they are no longer interested in manned space travel. And they have basically started to say we are going to do away with manned space travel and the Constellation program, which was the next phase of manned space travel, and we are going to let some friends of ours start some new businesses and try to go and let private industry go out there and do the shuttle service and launch our satellites. And basically, they have turned over the funds that would go to NASA for the manned space program and they have plans to turn it over to a few private individuals, amazingly enough, most of whom have been fairly large campaign donors of the Democrats and the Obama administration.

In fact, I think I can make an argument--we talk about earmarks in this Congress and all these terrible earmarks that people make--this has the potential, over the next few years, to be around 6 billion, with a B, dollars that the White House is going to earmark for certain individual companies, all of whom seem to have been involved in the success of that administration. Not that there is anything in a payoff in the way. Who knows?

Just a coincidence, I suppose, but we are canning manned space under our NASA program. We are going to lay off thousands of NASA workers and those contractors that work with NASA, and we are taking a new position that we are going to let new start-up companies start over and build a space program. I'm a privatization guy. I believe in privatization in everything we do, but this smacks of some strangeness, and I think that strangeness is what we are going to talk about here tonight.

I am joined by my friend Mr. Hall from Texas. I am joined by Judge Poe, and I am joined by my good friend Rob Bishop, who really informed me a lot about the immigration issue the last time we were together, and I am sure he has great insight.

So I will first recognize Judge Poe for such time as he may wish to consume.


Mr. CARTER. Reclaiming my time, the administration proposes a $1 billion cut in NASA's manned program. And at the same time, they are pushing $115 billion in new spending for ObamaCare after $700 billion in stimulus spending, which we are still looking for the stimulus.

The taxpayers have already invested $9 billion in the Constellation program, which was supposed to be the next step in the space program. It will cost $2.5 billion to shut down the Constellation program. So we are talking about $11.5 billion is going to be spent just to trash the program that we've already spent $9 billion on.

And, you know, space has always been a very glorious position for us to take. And we rose above the international bickering. We shared the space station with other nations. Recently, within the last couple of years, the Japanese on one of our shuttles took a major pod containment system up there, and they've got a piece of it. The Russians have some of it. Others have put technology on the space station to where now it is what we envisioned with all the various technologies and abilities to study long distances in space. And we've taken all that, and now, as my good friend from Texas says, to get to our space station that we put together, we're going to have to hitchhike with the Russians.

Now, we all know, as we developed the space station, we also developed the rocket power and the use of rocketry, which became a great part of our national arsenal. And, in fact, we are concerned about the ability of the people in Iran who are trying to develop a nuclear weapon to get a midrange missile to deliver it in their promised attacks on Israel. The rockets that defend our Nation came from the rockets that propelled us into outer space on our great jaunt and exploration of outer space.

So when you start hitting us in our technology, as I would argue the Obama administration is doing, and wasting $11.5 billion to shut down a program and putting us behind in the future development of these vehicles, where does this make sense? Are we just ceding the fact that now that the Obama administration is in charge of the country and they believe that American exceptionalism is a myth, they are going to prove it by taking away the things we are exceptional in? I have real issues with that. I think all of us do.

I'd like to recognize my good friend Rob Bishop from Utah to talk to us a little bit about--he is on several committees that have looked into this. He's got a good insight into what's going on. So whatever time you wish to consume, my friend.


Mr. CARTER. Perfect statement, ``forfeiting the game.'' We were leading the game, we were winning the game until this administration came into the White House, and we just stepped up and decided to forfeit the game.

Here's an article from Labor Magazine. It was published on April 15, 2010: ``Obama is pushing the privatization of NASA and the turnover of the government agency to his financial supporters Elon Musk and Google owners Page and Brin.

``A full bore campaign is now being waged by the Obama administration to shut down the U.S. unionized space program and turn it over to `new age' speculators who want to build a new space program in a `regulation-free' zone in Florida.''

And the plan is by billionaire and former owner of PayPal, Elon Musk. Musk has a company called Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, and the question is, `` `Should the United States hire Elon Musk, at a cost of a few billion dollars, to run a taxi service for American astronauts?'

``In fact, the SpaceX operation like much that Musk and his backers from Google Larry Page and Sergey Brin want the U.S. to give him $6 billion in the next 5 years to build'' this operation.

Now, that's a very interesting thing. We take a program, we put $9 billion into it, it's cost us $2.5 billion to shut it down, we shut it down, and we come up with $6 billion more over the next 5 years that we're going to give to some good friends to come up with a brand new program and they are, as Judge Poe points out, way behind in developing the rocket to get them to anywhere we want to go in space.

I yield back to my friend.


Mr. CARTER. Reclaiming my time, so we're just basically saying, Obama just said I want to change this program from one free enterprise group to my guys that are on my side; and, unfortunately, they're a little behind, but we'll beef them up and we'll try to get them there by spending the American taxpayers' money. It is

stimulus for a new group of private companies. It's amazing.

But who else is going to be competing? This is interesting. Taxpayers have already invested $9 billion in the Constellation, which will be lost. This is sort of a comedy piece that my staff put together. Everyone there is Oriental, but it has to do with the recent announcement--you know, we had promised that with the new Constellation program, we were going to go back to the Moon just to do some additional research there.

The Chinese had announced in February of 2004 that they've started their Moon exploration program. Phase I involves orbiting a satellite around the Moon. Phase II involves sending a lander to the Moon. Phase III involves collecting lunar soil samples. China plans to complete its space station and a manned mission to the Moon by 2020.

So not only are we giving up the fact that we're exceptional, but those people who are trying to show how exceptional they are--and quite honestly, the Chinese have done pretty much a turnaround since they learned that capitalism really works, and now they're doing the Moon explorations. Now, I'm sure there are one world order folks that say it doesn't really matter as long as we all sing Kumbaya and go to the Moon.

But the reality is, remember what technology and the defense world came out of, the technology that we developed in our space program; and that's something we can never forget. We can never forget to make sure that American exceptionalism allows us to stay on top of those things that keep us breathing free air in this country. If we ever concede that to those who maybe wouldn't like us as much as we might think they do--they may like our money but they maybe don't like us and our system of human beings having rights and freedoms and protections under our Constitution, and maybe those same people who don't feel so good about that part of American exceptionalism would like to impose their will on us someday. Are we going to give up our jaunts into space and our learning from that?

We're all walking around with cell phones in our pockets, some of us two or three of them up here in this crazy place we're in. All that technology developed out of the technology that started off with the space program. Simple things like Teflon and there's a million things out there in the world we don't even know about that came out of the space program, and yet industries have come out of the production of those products. I can't even remember them all, but I remember at one time we loved to talk about it when we talked about our space program. We've stopped talking about that.

But the point is, we're taking people that have dedicated their lives to the exceptional job of exploring that great wondrous thing called space, and we've told those people, we're laying you off to the tune of 20,000 to 30,000 of you in Texas and Alabama and Florida and other places so that we can start over with a bunch of our buddies in their backyards coming up with a new space program. I've got real issues with that.

But not only is China looking at a space program; the Russians are planning a manned Moon mission by 2025 to 2030, a manned Mars mission by 2035 to 2040. My Lord, everybody else sees those frontiers that we used to see. Remember when President Kennedy talked about the new frontier, space? We watched programs on television as kids about that frontier of space that we were going at, and we did it.

You know, recently we had hearings in this House where we heard from some of those pioneers, and we heard from the first man who walked on the Moon. Neil Armstrong, a man who basically stays out of the world of politics and lives a relatively quiet life for being such a national American hero, came up here and said we cannot afford to lose NASA. It will be a serious blow to the United States of America to lose NASA. In a minute, I'm going to ask my friend Ralph Hall who was at some of those hearings or heard some of these things that were said to tell us a little bit about that.

Mr. Hall, would you like to talk to us about what some of these great American heroes talked about in the NASA program?


Mr. CARTER. Thank you, Ralph.

Mr. Hall is the dean of the Texas delegation. We are awfully proud to have him. He has been working long and hard for many, many years to make sure that every time we shoot a human being into outer space we plan to bring them back.

It's easy to develop a space program where you can say, well, if the guy we shoot out there, if we lose him, it's no big deal, we at least have the technology to learn how it works. There are some that have developed space programs this way, but we've never developed it that way. Some people would say we're a great dinosaur, this NASA. This great dinosaur comes from the basic premise, a part of what makes Americans great, that every human life is important. Therefore, you test and retest and retest again, and you take another path and you find a new direction until you are assured of one thing: That that precious human life you put upon that exploding bomb called a rocket, you're capable of putting that human life out into space and bringing that human being back alive.

I would argue that we're the only space program where that has been a priority. What makes us so much more exceptional than others is because we've had accidents, but they were accidents. But our planned program didn't plan in expendability. We didn't plan for people to be expendable until we learned how to do it. We did it, we got through it, and we made it work.

It's a shame to have that kind of history of a program that has dedicated itself to exploring space and still caring about that one small, little glimmer of spark called a human life, and we do it. We have no assurance that this new direction is even going to come close to having that same basic spirit that created NASA. We are threatening a great human institution.

I want to yield some more time to my friend, Mr. Bishop.


Mr. CARTER. Recapturing my time, as the gentleman was pointing out something, it just popped into my head, the old civics course that everybody in this country at least used to take in high school about the three branches of government that were created by our Founders and what they did. The laws were written by the Congress, the legislative branch, administered and enforced by the executive branch--which is the White House--and interpreted and held to the standards of the Constitution by the judicial branch. And as the gentleman pointed out, this Congress has never taken the position that we were going to trash the Constellation. In fact, we wrote specific language that said the Constellation shall remain until Congress acts.

Now, the President, without a law or a direction by this Congress, has decided to use magic tricks that have never been used before to delay to the point of disaster and to destroy the Constellation.

We just heard today, when Judge Poe got up here and talked, that at least a court of this land has pointed out that the closing down of the gulf to offshore drilling was arbitrary and capricious, and it has granted the extraordinary relief that is very seldom done in the court system by granting an injunction against the President of the United States and the White House to prevent them, by one of the whims that they came up with, from closing down drilling in the gulf. This court has said, Sorry, boys. You can't do that.

Well, now we've got a Constitution, and we've got a Congress that has got a provision and a law that has been passed as the law of this land to be enforced by the executive branch of this government that says that we will not destroy the Constellation program until the Congress decides to do so, but the President, who, I guess, didn't take civics in high school, has decided it doesn't really matter whether Congress acts or not. He is going to destroy the program. I don't think that's the way it works. I don't think that's the way it's supposed to work.

We like to say this, and we recite this in a lot of places: We are a country of laws, not of men.

It is not what man runs the White House or what man runs some position in this country. It is what the law is. The law is passed by this Congress and by other legislative bodies around the 50 States in this Union. Our executive branch is to enforce those laws and to uphold them. Our judiciary is to remind them when they don't, and they have done so as recently as yesterday.

What is kind of strange is that the Carter administration decided to cede the Panama Canal. America would no longer manage the Panama Canal. It was going to save us money to get rid of the Panama Canal. Now, it's kind of funny. There is a Chinese flag imposed on this picture because now the Chinese manage the Panama Canal. That's kind of outsourcing American exceptionalism. We built that canal. Now we're outsourcing the Moon, potentially, to the Chinese under the Obama administration, and we are outsourcing the space program and the missiles that go along with that space program, and we're outsourcing the rocketry, which makes us exceptional.

You know, this administration has been very critical about the outsourcing of jobs outside the country. It has been pointing fingers at lots of people, saying they're destroying American jobs by outsourcing. What in the world do you think you're doing with these 20,000 to 30,000 high-paying, technical jobs--the great brain trust of America? You're outsourcing them to the Chinese, to the Indians, to the Russians--and maybe to the Japanese.

Why shouldn't we be concerned about this, Mr. President? I think that's a question we've got to ask ourselves. I think we've got to start asking, With how much are we willing to say we're no longer exceptional and that we're just going to outsource everything to everyone else?

I really believe the American people want to say to us here in Congress, Hey, wake up. Give us jobs like you've always given us jobs, and we as Americans will do those jobs, and we'll do them better than anybody else in the world. We always have and we always will. I'm not ready to give up on us, and I don't think my colleagues are ready to give up on us or on the American people.

We are still the exceptional people who put a man on the Moon in a decade like the President of the United States John F. Kennedy said. We are still the people who created the first, basically, aircraft that you could fly out into outer space--the shuttle program--a phenomenon that we used, and we landed them there on the runway just like an ordinary airplane rather than parachuting them into the ocean like the first programs we did. We have done wonders with NASA.

I hope and I pray--and I think everybody else hopes and prays--that the President will reconsider and will allow Congress to discuss this and will allow Congress to make decisions as to whether or not we're going to make these kinds of radical changes to the future of man's exploration of space and whether, when we do, if we change, we are protecting the sanctity of human life. All of these things are important. All of these things are things we ought to be concerned about. Right now, we've just got to be concerned about why this administration is giving up on American exceptionalism and why it is outsourcing our space program to foreign countries.

I'll yield whatever time Mr. Bishop would like so he can make a comment on that.


Mr. CARTER. In reclaiming my time, that is ironic because one of the things you hear from parents is, When am I going to be able to get my kids to have their own imaginations and to not play somebody else's video games? To me, it sounds like this is somebody else's video game.

You know, you'll remember when we diverted satellites from protecting our troops in Iraq to over the poles to check on global warming. From what I'm hearing from this administration, their plans for NASA are that we're going to have low-orbit satellite programs to check on global warming. Oh, I forgot. We don't call it ``global warming'' anymore. It's called ``climate change.'' I apologize. It turns out we may not be warming. Well, that's just a whole other debate. Yet it seems like all of the resources seem to be going towards desperately trying to confirm that debate.

I want to thank the gentleman for coming down, my distinguished friend from Utah, Rob Bishop, who is one of the smartest guys in Congress, who is a good friend of mine, and who is a classmate of mine. We came into this august body together. We share an awful lot of concerns about the future of what we are doing. I'm really happy to have Rob Bishop looking at the scientific side of our world, because he has got great insight into it. I want to thank him for sharing that insight with us tonight.

I want to thank the Speaker for allowing us to take this time to talk about something that we are very proud of. We in Texas have a lot to be proud of. One of the things we point out that we are proud of is the manned space center in Houston, Texas. When you look on the Texas map, which tells you all the great things to come see in Texas, we highly recommend that people visit the manned space center, because we know great things were done by great men and women at that place, and great things continue to be done there.

To drive a stake in the heart of the manned space program is a tragedy, not only for the State of Texas but for the whole United States and, I think I can effectively argue, the world. Let's not outsource another of our industries. Let's not give up on American exceptionalism. Let's go back and reconsider the Obama administration's desire to trash this program. Let's go back to putting us on a path with a plan, as Mr. Bishop pointed out, to go out and explore those new frontiers we have left to explore.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the time, and I yield back the balance of my time.

Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Back to top