This week, the NASA Caucus took flight in the U.S. House with five members of the Florida delegation joining the new group.
U.S. Rep. Steve Knight, R-Calif., and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, launched the new group which has more than 25 members. From the Sunshine State, Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Posey and Democrats U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Alcee Hastings and Debbie Wasserman Schultz joined the caucus.
According to Knight’s office, the new caucus will “strengthen policymaker awareness of NASA’s many connections to our national security and economic interests, provide as a bipartisan forum to discuss the scientific and technological challenges to American flight and space exploration endeavors, and serve as a focal point for public and private sector air and space expertise that cover the full range of NASA’s initiatives.”
Knight weighed in why he helped found the new caucus.
“There has been a lack of representation in the educational activities on Capitol Hill for many of NASA’s most important programs,” Knight said. “Many of these programs that are critical to U.S. national interests, and there is an interest here to learn more and support them. But the current landscape does not yet support that level of interest.
“I am proud to stand up this caucus so we can bring timely information to policymakers on these important issues related to exploration, research and development, and strategic investments vital to the future of U.S. air and space competitiveness,” Knight added. “I look forward to working with the members of this caucus to ensure this institution has the tools it needs to build on the many contributions it has made to American achievement.”
Knight is the son of William Knight, a decorated Air Force officer who was a test pilot and astronaut before serving in both chamber of the California legislature. The California Republican noted that Wednesday marked the anniversary of NASA launching Pioneer I in 1958, its first spacecraft launch. He touched on those connections and other milestones on Wednesday.
“NASA has been a part of my life since I was a child,” Knight said. “Last week we celebrated the 50th anniversary of my father’s record hyper-sonic flight and this week we celebrate not only the first NASA launch, but the 70th anniversary of Chuck Yeager’s first flight to break the sound barrier. Programs at the NACA and NASA have always been able to inspire a nation to go above and beyond what is currently known and take leaps to discovery in science. I hope this caucus can stimulate that spark of hope and imagination and get us to inquire more about what NASA can offer to nation.”
“NASA’s storied history has led America to discovery and innovation unparalleled in history. Its future possibilities are endless,” Kaptur said on Wednesday. “As the hardworking researchers and scientists at Glenn Research Center know, for pennies on the dollar, NASA programs have fueled jobs, created new industries and inspired entire generations of Americans. Today, we are excited to announce the launch of the bipartisan NASA Caucus to honor this scientific juggernaut’s contributions to American life and to assure its continued contributions to a future further enlightened by scientific advancement.”
Crist, who sits on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, explained why he thought the new group was needed.
“Our nation’s leadership in space exploration is key to innovation, technology development, scientific discovery, and educational research – advancing our society and economy,” Crist said. “Florida has long been a hub for space exploration and research at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, which facilitates tremendous advances in both the public and private sectors. I’m proud to be a founding member of the Congressional NASA Caucus, as well as serving on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, advocating for NASA’s important work fostering breakthroughs to keep us moving forward.”
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