As a former worker at KSC and former Chairman of Space Florida’s predecessor organization, I believe that America must absolutely remain at the forefront of space research and exploration. Not only will continued space exploration keep much-needed, high paying jobs here in Brevard County and throughout the Space Coast, but it ensures America remains first in innovations that will make the world a better place to live, and puts America in the lead on sending humankind farther out into space than anyone could have ever imagined.

Space is the ultimate military high ground and we cannot afford to cede that to Russia, China or anyone else. To do so puts our national security at risk. The Chinese have already taken laser target practice at satellites, and recent Congressional testimony by top military experts highlights the growing vulnerabilities of our military space assets posed by China. Meanwhile, we are paying the Russians over $70 million for each U.S. astronaut they put on the International Space Station.

I fought against allowing a U.S. human space flight gap and filed bipartisan legislation to close the gap.  The Administration chose a different path, one that made the U.S. human space flight gap longer, choosing not to extend the Shuttle program and terminating most of the Constellation program – a $9 billion investment.

We are moving forward with a commercial crew program in which NASA has contracted with American companies to develop commercial crew vehicles to carry U.S. astronauts to low earth orbit.  I have voted for a robust budget for this program and a path that brings this to reality as quickly as possible.

We have seen several successful commercial cargo missions and I am hopeful that we can move to a successful commercial crew program as well so that we can eliminate the need for Russian launch services. The Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, Orion, and the heavy lift Space Launch System (SLS) remain key to our missions beyond low earth orbit.

My RACE for Space Act (HR 4401), which was signed into law, will serve to eliminate red tape and ensure that the Department of Defense and commercial space launch companies can get better efficiencies launching at the Cape.

The SOARs Act, which I introduced with other Members of Congress, will help us capture the suborbital and orbital commercial marketplace that is budding. The SOARS Act breaks through bureaucratic hurdles and helps this infant industry move forward unencumbered by stifling regulation.

Another key to capturing the commercial space business is eliminating the red tape when it comes to shifting NASA facilities and equipment to commercial space companies.