Senator Cramer delivers keynote address at Grand Farm, UND Space Ag Conference
GRAND FORKS — U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), co-chair of the Senate Space Force Caucus, delivered a keynote address at Grand Farm and the University of North Dakota (UND) Space Ag conference. During his remarks, he highlighted the intersection of space and agriculture and the key role North Dakota plays in space research, innovation and exploration.
“It was a privilege to speak at the Space Ag Conference in Grand Forks and see so many attendees from industry, government and academia. Fostering growth at the intersection of space and agriculture is hugely important because solving problems in space can also help solving problems on land, and having a conference like this where we can bring all of these different sectors together in one event is really important and beneficial, not only to North Dakota and our government agencies, but to our country as a whole,” said Senator Cramer.
Senator Cramer spoke about his visit to the Kennedy Space Center, which included a tour of UND Space Studies Department Chair Dr. Pablo de León’s ongoing research and design for space suits and space habitats at Space Life Sciences Lab. The tour also included the Artemis I lunar exploration program, the SpaceX hangar, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Veggie program, and the Swamp Works facility, which showcases new tools for deep space exploration.
“Being at NASA, visiting Swamp Works, the Veggie Program and the Spacesuit Lab with Dr. Pablo de León is a bit like taking a tour of Graceland with Elvis. He’s highly respected not only for his big brain and incredible contributions to science, but also for being a really great guy.” said Senator Cramer.
He also participated in the Space Ag Workshop to discuss how small businesses in North Dakota can work with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and innovation in the AgTech industry. Senator Cramer emphasized the need to break down barriers so that every student, scientist, faculty member and entrepreneur interested in the space industry can make a difference in the world. He advocated for investment in STEM education, research and development, and public-private partnerships.
“Some people might think that the overlap of space and agriculture seems far-fetched. Yet when you think about it, it really isn’t far-fetched at all. It’s quite significant. When you think about the things that every human being in the world needs, things like energy and food, and you consider the fact that arable land is shrinking and technological advances allow us to do more in a smaller space, a great part of this discovery is taking place in space Space farming and the technology it creates could catalyze the development of high-yield agricultural production that requires less land and less energy, ultimately providing farmers with the opportunity to create more with less”, said Senator Cramer. “The intersection of space and agriculture is important, and the challenges associated with advancing research and development in this sector require thinking outside the box. North Dakota is a nexus for this type of growth and investment.
Sen. Cramer’s first space guest as a senator from North Dakota was former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine. They went around the UND space program with Dr. Pablo de León, met with UND aerospace program leaders to discuss their partnership with NASA, and participated in a town hall with students from the UND space program. UND is one of the few universities in the world to offer human spaceflight training and is the first university to operate a NASA-funded laboratory dedicated to the design and construction of space exploration suits and spacecraft. planetary surface exploration.
Senator Cramer was instrumental in creating the Space Force, securing its inclusion in the National Defense Authorization Act, which President Trump signed into law in December 2019. Since then, Senator Cramer has helped implement it, using his SASC seat to work with leaders in the space and bring them to North Dakota to see the state’s space potential. first hand. This included Chief of Space Operations General Raymond’s first official trip as Chief of Space Force, where he visited the University of North Dakota School of Aerospace Sciences and Cavalier Air Force Station.
In August 2021, UND became the first university to partner with the US Space Force through its University Partnership Program, which will give students the chance to be at the forefront of addressing the country’s urgent space needs.
In September 2021, Grand Forks Air Force Base was selected to operate a military satellite mission by the Space Development Agency (SDA). SDA will use the base as a monitoring and maneuvering center for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites.
Senator Cramer also founded the bipartisan Senate Space Force Caucus and co-chairs it with Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).