COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — For a politician, there’s not a lot to gain in space. Voters tend care more about taxes, health care and immigration than issues as abstract as who’s monitoring the debris in space.
But Rep. Jim Bridenstine thinks a lot about space debris — and space in general: how all that traffic up there should be managed, how wars would be fought in space, how we might get to Mars.
He’s not some far out, cosmic hippy type with a collection of funky space ties, even if he was the executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium before he was elected to Congress. Rather, he’s a staunch, dark-suited Republican from Oklahoma who still keeps his hair high and tight in accordance with Navy regulations. And though he’s a rookie in the Capitol, with only about three years of experience as a congressman, he’s ambitious and looking to make a mark as a member of the House Armed Services and Space, Science and Technology committees.
At a speech here Tuesday at the annual Space Symposium, he unveiled what he called the American Space Renaissance Act, a sprawling piece of legislation that touches on virtually every aspect in space, including national security, NASA and the growing commercial space sector.
Speaking to an audience filled with members of the military, civil space agencies and the commercial space industry, he praised how “American entrepreneurs revolutionized access and operations in space.” But he warned that “these breakthroughs from space technologies are no longer assured. The potential enemies of the United States are moving rapidly to deny the use of space even if it means denying space entirely for future generations.”
The legislation is so broad that even its sponsor concedes it has little chance of passing all at once. Still, Bridenstine said it is a chance to shine a spotlight on space, an issue that’s not getting enough attention. He’s even developed a website to explain it.
“Most Americans and members of Congress are not tuned into how important space is to our everyday lives,” he said in an interview before the speech. “Our very way of life depends on space. The way we communicate. The way we navigate. The way we produce food and energy. The way we conduct banking.”
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