Eileen Collins, Ted Cruz To Speak at GOP Convention Tonight–47th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Landing

Eileen Collins, Ted Cruz To Speak at GOP Convention Tonight–47th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Landing

Former astronaut Eileen Collins is scheduled to speak tonight at the GOP Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.  Whether coincidental or not, today is the 47th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon and the theme for tonight, the third night of the convention, is Make America First Again.   Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who posted a video and tweeted about the anniversary today, is also on the schedule.  He chairs the Senate subcommittee that oversees NASA.  Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an avid space supporter, also will speak. 

Whether Cruz or Gingrich will focus on the space program is unclear, but Collins, the first woman to command the space shuttle, told Mashable that she plans to talk about the inspiration of the Apollo program and to “raise awareness of how the U.S. human space program has slowed over the years.”  She was the pilot of STS-63 and STS-84, and commanded STS-93 and STS-114, the 2005 return to flight mission following the 2003 space shuttle Columbia tragedy.  She retired from NASA in 2006. 

[UPDATE:  to read about what happened, click here.]

At a congressional hearing earlier this year, Collins complained that program cancellations “made by bureaucracies, behind closed doors, without input by the people, are divisive, damaging, cowardly, and many times more expensive in the long run.”  She was a member of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) when the Constellation program was cancelled by the Obama Administration, a decision that came as a surprise to everyone on NAC, she said.

The GOP’s schedule for tonight lists her as the fourth speaker.  The event gets underway at 7:00 pm ET.

Cruz chaired a hearing on the future of the space program last week (SpacePolicyOnline’s summary of the hearing will be posted soon) and today posted a video and tweeted about the Apollo 11 anniversary (the link to the video is embedded in the tweet).

Cruz’s comments in the three hearings he has held about space since the beginning of 2015 demonstrate a strong interest in U.S. leadership in space exploration, primarily human exploration, and belief that NASA should focus on space science and exploration and not earth science.

Gingrich is a well known space enthusiast.  During his own campaign for President in 2012, he advocated for a Moon base by 2020, a Mars colony, new propulsion systems and more.

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