NASA doesn’t have the funds to get to Mars alone, Ted Cruz says

Enlarge / Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) speaks during a rally to launch his re-election campaign at the Redneck Country Club on April 2, 2018 in Stafford, Texas. (credit: Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)

On Friday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) spent the morning at Houston's Johnson Space Center for a ceremony announcing the nine astronauts who will fly aboard NASA's first commercial crew missions. During the visit, Cruz burnished his space credentials, noting that nearly full funding for the commercial crew program by Congress coincided with his selection as chairman of the Senate committee that oversees NASA in 2015.

Recently, Sen. Cruz said that—while he does not oppose the Trump administration's plan to use the Moon as a proving ground for human exploration in deep space—NASA's goal must remain Mars, with human landings in the 2030s. "Let me be clear," he said at a committee hearing last month. "Mars is today the focal point of our national space program. And if American boots are to be the first to set foot on its surface, it will define a new generation. Generation Mars.”

With this statement in mind, Ars spoke to Cruz after Friday's ceremony in Houston. How did he think NASA could reach Mars by then, absent a large infusion of money?

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