Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas


May 5, 2011

Rep. Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land) today issued the following statement marking the 50th anniversary of Alan Shepard's historic first flight into space:

 "Today marks the 50th anniversary of Alan Shepard's courageous venture into space aboard the Mercury capsule.  Just a few short weeks later, that historic accomplishment paved the way for President Kennedy's speech to Congress, declaring that America "should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon."  Since that time, the U.S. human space flight program has been a source of pride and inspiration for our nation.

 "In fifty short years, NASA put men on the moon, developed and operated the only manned reusable space vehicle –the space shuttle, and worked with other nations to build the International Space Station, where we continue to learn about the universe we inhabit.

 "The most important mission of NASA is human space flight, and America must continue to be a world leader in space exploration. Human space flight embodies American exceptionalism and the capacity of the human spirit to explore, take risks and reap yet undetermined rewards.  A strong commitment to human space exploration is vital to our national security and economy. 

 "Yet, on this anniversary, we must ask, what is the next mission for NASA?  In my tenure representing the Johnson Space Center, I've worked to set specific goals for NASA and will continue to work tirelessly to ensure we have a strong human space flight program going forward.

 "On this historic anniversary, our pride in this momentous achievement is unequaled.  We must maintain that pride by building on it with a new generation of human space exploration. Space exploration is not for the faint of heart.  It takes a commitment and resolve that few possess, which is why the men and women who comprise our space program remain national heroes."