Earlier this year, during the International Space Station Research & Development Conference, I had the great opportunity to unveil my space vision for the rest of the 21st century. Outlining the five pillars of American space power:
- Leadership –U.S. leadership and international rule building in space;
- Permanence – The strong permanent U.S. presence in space;
- Harmony – The cohesion between private and public sector;
- Security – U.S. abilities to countering Chinese and Russian aggression in space; and
- Support – The workforce, supply chain, and industrial base.
Focus and recognition of these pillars will not only help us in strengthening our space enterprise, but also provide us with the best basis for charting a course to Mars in the 2030s and win this new era space race.
At the heart of this framework, is the robust engine of Alabama industry paving the way and setting an example for the nation to succeed. Within each pillar, Alabama serves a key role in ensuring American space power remains sharp and forward leaning. Now, as our state industry gathers for the Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium, it is important to recognize these pillars and identify where Alabama will lead the way.
Within leadership and permanence, Alabama is positioned to set the standards for rules and norms relating to in-space habitation and sustainment. As we power through with the Artemis Program, the work at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is critical to these endeavors.
From the development of the Space Launch System, its development of future block variations that are vital to the success of Artemis, and the eventual development of the Mars Transit Vehicle, Marshall will continue to be the lead NASA Center in ensuring that we get back to the Moon and onward to Mars.
In regard to harmony, Alabama is uniquely blessed with the presence of Boeing, Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance, Sierra Space, and a multitude of others that demonstrate the mantra that “new space” and “old space” are obsolete terms. With these great American companies investing in our state and workforce, and many more looking to join, Alabamians are truly at the forefront.
This is especially pertinent as adversaries like China seek to solely compete with the U.S. in space through government entities posing as private companies. Within our capitalistic system, though, the U.S. model of public/private partnerships continues to give us the edge and our Alabama industry will serve as the premiere case study.
Within the security pillar, Redstone Arsenal has demonstrated Alabama’s leadership in our national defense since the Second World War. As our nation seeks to counter a dangerous Putin led Russia and contain a rising China, Redstone and its assets to our space and missile defense will continue this rich legacy.
Through production of Javelin Anti-Tank Weapon Systems and manufacturing of rockets to carry classified National Reconnaissance Office payloads, the work in Alabama is directly assisting the American warfighter in all domains of operation. Additionally, as the process for the home of U.S. Space Command continues, I believe the right decision will be made to place it where it is most effectively warranted – right here in Alabama.
Lastly, the support pillar, where Alabama’s excellence in STEM education shines. From our stellar universities to our innovative two-year college system to Space Camp, Alabama has a footprint in developing our workforce for the future. As the U.S. and allies compete for global talent with China, it is now more crucial than ever to ensure that the next generation of our aerospace workforce is educated and up for the challenge of deep space exploration.
In Huntsville in particular, we’ve seen a surge in population and business development, with countless companies and engineers seeking opportunities to advance American space from within Alabama. These trends alone demonstrate the clear desire by many Americans to join us and be a part of Alabama’s story within our country’s journey to Mars.
If the United States is to maintain its pre-eminence in space through the remainder of this century, the decisions, and investments we make this decade are paramount to that success. Those decisions and investments are going to be made here in Alabama.
Our nation’s space, defense, and technological superiority cannot advance for this era of great power competition, without our state.
As a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, serving as the Ranking Member of the subcommittee for Commerce, Justice, and Science and as a member of the subcommittee for Defense, it will continue to be a top priority to ensure that Alabama is leading America’s space enterprise.