Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

On 40th Anniversary of Moon Landing, Kaufman Calls for Renewed Dedication to Scientific Research and Development

“The vitality of our economy rests with our ability to be the world’s leader in innovation.”

July 20, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC - In a speech marking the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-DE) highlighted the research, innovation, and hard work of the nation's scientists and engineers that propelled America's journey to the moon. In his speech, Sen. Kaufman detailed how investments in scientific research and development are critical to the nation's current economic recovery.
 
"If we hope to assert our country's preeminence in these fields, we must again invest significantly and responsibly in research and development," said Sen. Kaufman on the Senate floor. "The vitality of our economy rests with our ability to be the world's leader in innovation."
 
"As we face some of our greatest economic challenges, the scientific and engineering community has the greatest potential to find avenues for what we need most:  new, sustainable jobs. ... I am confident that engineers will continue to foster the research and innovation that will lead America on a path to economic recovery and prosperity."
As the only serving Senator who was a working engineer, Sen. Kaufman has advocated on numerous occasions for a renewed emphasis in science and innovation to meet the increasing challenges of a competitive global economy.
Full remarks, as prepared for delivery:
 
Mr. President, I rise today, on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, to highlight the importance of scientific research and development to America's economic recovery. 
           
Forty years ago, Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took the first human steps on the moon.  It was, needless to say, a historic moment for the United States and the world. 
 
Eight years prior, President John F. Kennedy declared before a joint session of Congress that the United States "should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon." Armstrong's famous words, "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," marked the fulfillment of President Kennedy's goal. 
 
That momentous step also signaled the coronation of the United States as the world leader in the sciences - a distinction we held through the rest of the 20th Century, but which now is in jeopardy.
 
Make no mistake:  the dawn of a renewed American powerhouse economy will not come without the same determination that propelled America's journey to the Moon.  The key to America's success in a global economy will be the research, innovation, and hard work of our nation's scientists and engineers. 
 
Americans at the time were inspired by a sense of patriotism and dedication to explore the universe following the Soviets' successful launch of the Sputnik satellite.  The race to the moon launched a substantial federal investment in scientific and technological research and development.  Students across the country were inspired to study engineering-and I, a working engineer at the time, was among those inspired. 
 
This extraordinary investment in research and development helped fuel the nation's economic growth and left an indelible mark on our society. The discoveries and innovations of this time created new opportunities, industries, companies, products and services, and new ways of delivering old products and services more efficiently.
 
Unfortunately, since that time, our investments in research and development have not kept up.  Other nations may soon out-pace us in pursuit of the technological and scientific discoveries that will define this generation.
 
If we hope to assert our country's preeminence in these fields, we must again invest significantly and responsibly in research and development. The vitality of our economy rests with our ability to be the world's leader in innovation.  As we face some of our greatest economic challenges, the scientific and engineering community has the greatest potential to find avenues for what we need most:  new, sustainable jobs. 
 
That is why I am pleased that President Obama has set the goal to devote more than three percent of our economy to research and development - a feat that will require significant federal as well as private investment.  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has already provided over $20 billion of federal funds to reach this target and it's our job to see that these resources are spent wisely in order to achieve the maximum economic benefit.    
 
But the national goal is also about research and development investment by private industry, which the government can help foster with pro-innovation policies.  We also need to encourage a new generation of engineers through education policies that empha science and math.


I am confident that engineers will continue to foster the research and innovation that will lead America on a path to economic recovery and prosperity. They will help us build a clean energy economy, stay competitive in a globalizing world, and drive the real-world applications from our nation's health and science research to improve our quality of life. Moreover, these discoveries and innovations will create millions of new jobs and invest in our future. 
 
Mr. President, just before Apollo 11 returned to Earth, Armstrong concluded that, "The responsibility for this flight lies first with history and with the giants of science who have preceded this effort; next with the American people, who have, through their will, indicated their desire; next with four administrations and their Congresses, for implementing that will; and then, with the agency and industry teams that built our spacecraft, the Saturn, the Columbia, the Eagle, and the little EMU, the spacesuit and backpack that was our small spacecraft out on the lunar surface."
 
Just as we all came together in the race to the moon over forty years ago, we need a renewed urgency for science and engineering.  The American people, the Administration, Congress, agencies, and industries must unite to support the research and development that will lead us not only to new frontiers in health, energy, technology, and security - but to new jobs and, ultimately, a sustainable economic recovery.
 
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