U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper announced Friday he will serve as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Science and Space.
The subcommittee is new, and Hickenlooper will be its first-ever chair. The subcommittee will oversee development, research, legislation and policy regarding space, science, technology, engineering and math.
“As a former geologist, I’m excited to serve as chair of the Subcommittee on Science and Space – you might even say we’re over the moon,” said Hickenlooper, D-Colo., in a news release.
The Commerce subcommittee will also oversee agencies such as NASA, the National Science Foundation and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
“Done properly, science helps us observe the world around us and use those observations to plan a better future,” Hickenlooper said. “It’s a key ingredient for getting the pandemic under control and building our clean energy economy.”
Hickenlooper was also assigned to the Senate HELP Committee, the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship earlier this month. He has yet to receive any further subcommittee assignments, but he is expected to also chair the HELP subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety.
Space has been an important topic for Colorado representatives this year.
In the final days of the Trump administration, the Air Force announced the U.S. Space Command would move from Colorado Springs to Huntsville, Alabama. In January, the entire Colorado delegation urged President Joe Biden to suspend the effort and conduct a thorough review of the decision to move Space Command, speculating the decision to move it was purely political.
The letter argued that moving Space Command would present a national security risk, because it would pause operations and move the command farther from other space operations located in Colorado.
“Our state also boasts the nation’s largest aerospace economy on a per capita basis,” the letter said.
Many other space or aeronautical organizations, like Space Command, have their headquarters in Colorado. Those include the National Space Defense Center, U.S. Northern Command, Cheyenne Mountain Air Station and the U.S. Air Force Academy. Colorado is also home to eight of the nine Space Force Deltas.
Hickenlooper’s position as chairman of the subcommittee is significant because, with so many space operations and organizations in the state that hire residents, certain legislation related to space has the potential to affect Colorado’s economy.
“In Colorado, our aerospace industry is one of the top economic drivers, employing around 200,000 people,” Hickenlooper said.
According to Hickenlooper’s news release, the state’s aerospace companies contribute about $15 billion to the state’s economy each year.
“If we can land on Mars, even bigger things are close at hand,” Hickenlooper said. “Colorado will play a leading role in making those big things a reality.”
Grace George is an intern for The Durango Herald and The Journal in Cortez and a student at American University in Washington, D.C.