Paying tribute to Texas’ space legacy
Sen. John Cornyn

On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 crew ma rked an unprecedented jou rney, inspi ring hu man explora tion for genera - t ion s to c ome . A st ronaut Neil Armst rong rep orted the landing of the first manned mission on the moon w ith the ass uring word s, “Houston, Tranqui lity Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

While the world held its breath watching Armstrong’s first steps live on telev ision, engineers and scientist s in Houston worked tirelessly from Mission Control on the sa fety and success of the mission. Commun icating constantly with Apollo 11’ s crew, Houston’s NASA facil it ies ensu red th at the gia nt leap for mank ind brought pr ide for Texans and Americans around the world.

Ju ly 29 marked the 53r d yea r since President Eisenhower signe d legislat ion est abl ish ing the National Aeronautics & Space Ad mi nistration, or NASA. Wit h the goal of pioneering American space exploration and the impetus of the global sp ac e rac e, NA SA sought to do as none had done before. It was in 1961 that NASA establish ed the site that would ma ke Texas integral to American spac eflig ht.

The Ma nned Spacecraf t Center, rena med the Johnson Spac e Ce nte r in 19 73 for Te xas nativ e Pre siden t Lyndon B. Joh nson , has house d fa cilitie s cr uc ial to the nation’s space progra m for five decades.

Team s in t he Mis sion C ont rol Cen te r have he lpe d di rec t every human mission since 1965 , including the Ap ollo missions as wel l as 135 shutt le flights.

The Internat ion al Spac e Station

Flight Control Room communicates with the space stat ion and coordinates shutt le missions.

Va rioussc ientific res earc h facilities foster space technolog y in nov at ion and ove rsee ex per i- ments. The Tra ining Flight Control Room prep a res as tro nau ts for the demands of space travel with si mu lations.

Wit hout a doubt, the Johnson Sp ace Center has be en vit al to NASA’s vision to “re ach for new heights and reveal the unknow n so that what we do and lea rn will benefit all humank ind.”

Th e Jo hns on Sp ace Cent er has contribu ted intel lectual and cultural vitality to Texas as well. Wit h abou t 3,0 00 civilia n employe es, 110 ast ronauts, and t ho us a nds of cont r actors , t he Spac eCentercomm unity has transformed Houston into a hub of aeronaut ical inn ovat ion and collaboration.

United in thi s presence, space has be come integrat ed into the culture of Houston. Games, tours, and exhibits at the Space Center Housto nattr act visit ors from around the world. Even the city ’s Major Leag ue Baseball te am, the Hou ston Astros, and thei r NBA te am, the Houston Roc kets, ar e named after the cit y’s unique contribution. Thispastmonth, wewer e reminded yet aga in of Texas’ significant achievement . Welcomed by cheers and suppor t, the four astronauts who flew space shuttle At lantis’ final mission returned home to Houston on July 22nd . Though t his was a bitters weet moment, Texans have much to be proud of in decades of remarkable service, innovat ion, and exploration for our country.

Theunpre cede ntedaccomplishments of the Johnson Space Center and the men and women hard at work there pushed Texas to the forefront of spacef lig ht . In spite of the conclusion of the shut tle prog ram, our great state will persist in leading the nex t generat ion of human exploration, andwill nodoubtconti nue to bring pride and success to Texans and our nation.

Sen.Corny nserves on the Finance, Ju dicia r y, A rm ed S erv ices , an d Bu dget Comm ittees. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Co mmit tee’s Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee.

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