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Chairman Gordon Introduces House Resolution Honoring Landmark Space Anniversary

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2007

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(Washington, DC)  The Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology Bart Gordon (D-TN) introduced a House resolution today aimed at honoring the 50th anniversary of the dawn of the Space Age. 

That landmark anniversary is tomorrow - October 4, 1957.

Upon introduction of the House resolution, Chairman Gordon delivered the following statement:

"Madame Speaker, I rise today to speak about the 50th anniversary of the dawn of the Space Age, an event that took place on October 4, 1957 with the launch of Sputnik 1. To recognize the importance of that event, I also am introducing a House Concurrent Resolution, and Reps. Mark Udall (D-CO), Ralph Hall (R-TX), Tom Feeney (R-FL), and Nick Lampson (D-TX) are joining me as original cosponsors of that resolution.

Fifty years ago America found itself in the midst of the Cold War, and the launch of Sputnik 1 was seen as yet another challenge in our ongoing and deadly serious rivalry with the Soviet Union. In the aftermath of Sputnik 1, America rose to the challenge that it faced. We invested in our own space program, and we undertook a fundamental reexamination of the nation's educational system, focusing increased attention on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education--what we now call 'STEM' education.

America prevailed. Moreover, our accomplishments in space exploration opened a new era for humankind. Forever after, human aspirations and activity will extend beyond our home planet. Equally importantly, the exploration of space has evolved from Cold War competition into an endeavor that has been marked by significant international cooperation, with results that have benefited all humanity.

For example, our meteorological and environmental satellites have monitored weather and climate, ocean currents, polar ice, fires, and pollution. Communications satellites--or 'comsats'--have linked the people of the world in ways not thought possible five decades ago. Precise positioning provided by navigational satellites has brought dramatic benefits to a wide swath of human activities, and "GPS" has become a household word.

Our understanding has been irreversibly enhanced by the many scientific satellites and space probes that have enabled significant advances in our knowledge of the universe. In addition, human spaceflight, including the successful Apollo lunar landings, has inspired successive generations of young people to pursue careers in science and engineering.

Finally, our national security space systems have helped defend the nation and have provided us with the means to monitor the actions of potential adversaries.

Today we again find our nation locked in a competitive struggle. A 'flat' world, an increasingly technological world, has America competing economically in the global marketplace against well trained and well educated rivals.

The competition that accompanied the dawn of the Space Age fifty years ago reinvigorated the nation's interest in science and technology, leading to an increased investment both in research and in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.

These investments contributed to the development of a technologically skilled generation of Americans that has led the world in innovation and accomplishment.

The new global competition for preeminence in science and technology and innovation has led to a call for a renewed commitment to research and to STEM education akin to that which followed the dawn of the Space Age. Congress has responded by renewing our national commitment to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education with the recently enacted America COMPETES Act, but we will need to sustain our efforts in this area year after year--there is no 'quick fix'.

I believe that America has received a significant return on its past investments in the nation's space program, and we need to continue to maintain our commitment to a strong and productive space program. As a result, I and my fellow cosponsors want to honor this historic anniversary by offering the concurrent resolution that I have introduced today. To that end I would just like to close by quoting a few of the key phrases of that resolution, namely:

'Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives, that the Congress honors the fiftieth anniversary of the dawn of the Space Age; recognizes the value of investing in America's space program; and declares it to be in America's interest to continue to advance knowledge and improve life on Earth through a sustained national commitment to space exploration in all its forms, led by a new generation of well educated scientists, engineers and explorers.'"

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