Sen. Cruz: While the Future Appears Bright, the U.S. Cannot Afford to Become Complacent in the Emerging Space Race
by Ted Cruz on May 24, 2017 at 4:01 PM
Tuesday I chaired the second of a series of planned hearings to explore the reopening of the American frontier in space. Tuesday's hearing titled ‘Reopening the American Frontier: Exploring How the Outer Space Treaty Will Impact American Commerce and Settlement in Space,' examined the U.S. government obligations under the Outer Space Treaty on its 50th anniversary, specifically compliance with Article VI of the Treaty that requires governments to authorize and continually supervise the activities of non-government entities. This hearing also explored the Treaty's potential impacts on expansion of our nation's commerce and settlement in space.
Seven witnesses testified at the hearing, including James E. Dunstan, founder, Mobius Legal Group, PLLC; Laura Montgomery, attorney and proprietor, Ground Based Space Matters, LLC; Matthew Schaefer, Co-Director of Space, Cyber and Telecommunications Law Program University of Nebraska College of Law; Mike Gold, Vice President, Washington Operations, Space Systems Loral; Peter Marquez, Vice President of Global Engagement, Planetary Resources; Colonel Pamela Melroy, Colonel, U.S. Air Force, retired and former astronaut; Bob Richards, founder and CEO, Moon Express.
Last week, I participated in The Atlantic's ‘On the Launchpad: Return to Deep Space' forum, where I discussed my efforts to advance America's leadership in space. Video of my appearance may be found here.
Watch my opening statement here and the full text of my opening remarks as prepared are below:
Fifty years ago the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a period of intense international crisis.
Two decades of the Cold War had resulted in the Berlin Blockade, the Soviet Union's testing of the atomic bomb, the successful launch of Sputnik, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Vietnam War.
However, despite the prolonged period of intense international crisis, a remarkable event occurred. The United States and the Soviet Union were able to come together and author the Outer Space Treaty which was intended to become the foundation for all future activity in outer space.
The main tenets of the treaty include the prohibition of the placement of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in space or on a celestial body; the requirement that States are responsible for national space activities whether carried out by governmental or non-governmental entities; and states that outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, are not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty.
Following ratification by the Senate, the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union were among 60 nations to sign the Outer Space Treaty with signing ceremonies in Washington, D.C., London and Moscow on January 27, 1967.
President Lyndon B. Johnson hailed the signing of the treaty as, ‘an inspiring moment in the history of the human race,'.
However, in the half century that has since passed, many articles of the treaty haven't been fully tested as the majority of activities in space have primarily been carried out by governmental entities.
But that could soon change as the United States is poised to lead an explosion in commercial space activity that will see American companies look to land on the surface of the Moon, service satellites and mine asteroids which may contain platinum and other precious metals valued upwards of trillions of dollars.
While the future appears bright, we cannot afford to become complacent. The United States does not stand alone in this new emerging space race. Just last month it was announced that China and the European Space Agency are interested in creating an outpost on the Moon.
As activities in space increase they will undoubtedly pose new challenges as countries and companies compete for resources throughout the universe.
We should anticipate that there will be conflicts as countries and private industry race to reach areas of the Moon that hold significant advantages such as the ‘Peaks of Eternal Light' and lunar sites that may hold vast quantities of water. These sites will provide economic and operational advantages for those that reach them first.
Therefore, it is incumbent upon Congress to use the 50-year anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty to properly determine our actual international obligations, decide if specific articles in the treaty are self-executing or not, and ensure that our domestic policy moving forward creates an environment that provides certainty for industry while protecting our national security.
Those decisions will be made by this committee as we continue our series of hearings looking at reopening the American frontier.
That's why we are gathered here today. The testimony that this committee is about to hear will help pave the way of the future of space exploration and our global competitiveness.
Every little boy and girl has once looked into the night sky and wondered what lies out there.
If this committee can establish a strong national commercial space policy, then I have no doubt that in the not too distant future those same those little boys and girls that once looked into the night sky will soon have an abundance of opportunities to find out for themselves what truly lies out there.