On July 20th, 1969, the Apollo 11 crew marked an unprecedented journey, inspiring human exploration for generations to come. Astronaut Neil Armstrong reported the landing of the first manned mission on the moon with the assuring words, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
While the world held its breath watching Armstrong’s first steps live on television, engineers and scientists in Houston worked tirelessly from Mission Control on the safety and success of the mission. Communicating constantly with Apollo 11’s crew, Houston’s NASA facilities ensured that the giant leap for mankind brought pride for Texans and Americans around the world.
July 29 marked the 53rd year since President Eisenhower signed legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA. With the goal of pioneering American space exploration and the impetus of the global space race, NASA sought to do as none had done before. It was in 1961 that NASA established the site that would make Texas integral to American spaceflight.
The Manned Spacecraft Center, renamed the Johnson Space Center in 1973 for Texas native President Lyndon B. Johnson, has housed facilities crucial to the nation’s space program for five decades. Teams in the Mission Control Center have helped direct every human mission since 1965, including the Apollo missions as well as 135 shuttle flights. The International Space Station Flight Control Room communicates with the space station and coordinates shuttle missions. Various scientific research facilities foster space technology innovation and oversee experiments. The Training Flight Control Room prepares astronauts for the demands of space travel with simulations. Without a doubt, the Johnson Space Center has been vital to NASA’s vision to “reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.”
The Johnson Space Center has contributed intellectual and cultural vitality to Texas as well. With about 3,000 civilian employees, 110 astronauts, and thousands of contractors, the Space Center community has transformed Houston into a hub of aeronautical innovation and collaboration. United in this presence, space has become integrated into the culture of Houston. Games, tours, and exhibits at the Space Center Houston attract visitors from around the world. Even the city’s Major League Baseball team, the Houston Astros, and their NBA team, the Houston Rockets, are named after the city’s unique contribution.
This past month, we were reminded yet again of Texas’ significant achievement. Welcomed by cheers and support, the four astronauts who flew space shuttle Atlantis’ final mission returned home to Houston on July 22nd. Though this was a bittersweet moment, Texans have much to be proud of in decades of remarkable service, innovation, and exploration for our country. The unprecedented accomplishments of the Johnson Space Center and the men and women hard at work there pushed Texas to the forefront of spaceflight. In spite of the conclusion of the shuttle program, our great state will persist in leading the next generation of human exploration, and will no doubt continue to bring pride and success to Texans and our nation.
Sen. Cornyn serves on the Finance, Judiciary, Armed Services, and Budget Committees. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.
The Village Idiot — Class, but not least
For Steve’s birthday, it was decided that no one could give him a gift that cost over a dollar. Not that we don’t like Steve, or that he isn’t worth more than a dollar, or that we’re extremely cheap (well, it could be that). It’s just that as grown-ups, who needs more stuff?
Black Friday on Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving is a time set apart to thank God for all His blessings. It now appears that stores are trying to get a jump on Christmas shopping by beginning “Black Friday” on Thanksgiving Day! Our culture continues to push a secular agenda on all of us. Now the press of shopping is crowding out a time of personal reflection on the goodness of God.
BYRON YORK: Obama, Dems kept mum about health plan
The journalist Jonathan Cohn, an ardent supporter of Obamacare, recently wrote in The New Republic that problems with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act should be “an opportunity to have a serious conversation about the law’s trade-offs — the one that should have happened a while ago.”
DONNA BRAZILE: A gift of practical idealism
I was only 3 when President John F. Kennedy died, but I’ll never forget what happened that day as my grandmother and others cried. You see, we were Catholics living down in the then-segregated Deep South. Kennedy was our hope for a better tomorrow.
The way we were
I can hear in my mind’s ear Barbra Streisand’s beautifully haunting song “The Way We Were.” It was a nostalgic, wistful song in a movie of the same name. But sometimes, like now, it reminds me of how far we’ve come.
n the last hours of the government shutdown, the bizarre got even more bizarre. Progressive clergy and low-wage workers affected by the shutdown visited more than a dozen House offices and left a “consensus” letter from religious groups: “As people of faith and conscience, we urge you to place shared democratic values above short-term political expediency, exercise the courage to fund our nation’s government, raise the debt limit without preconditions and get back to work on a faithful budget that serves the common good.”
The women are taking over
The headline in the Washington Post read, “Moderates flex muscle.” Below that were pictures of 12 senators, six from each party, who are helping to forge a bipartisan compromise that would reopen the government and pay its bills. But the story never mentioned a key fact: Five of the 12 are women, three Republicans and two Democrats.
September is just about over, and even though we have most of fall and a small part of winter to go, for some, the end of the year is nigh. For baseball and its fans, for instance, the year ends in October. And for my Jewish friends, the old year ended about three weeks ago and the new year is already here.
The cruel cost of cutting food stamps
Last week Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to slash food stamp spending by $39 billion over 10 years. The next day, the Washington Post ran a picture of a job fair in suburban Maryland. The caption reported that “about 1,000 applicants an hour” streamed into the event searching for work.
How CAIR tried to control what we “never forget” on 9/11
On the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 jihad attacks, John Jamason, of Palm Beach, Fla., posted the following comment on his personal Facebook page:
“Never forget. There is no such thing as radical Islam. All Islam is radical. There may be Muslims who don’t practice their religion, much like others. The Quran is a book that preaches hate.”
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