Texas Space Commission launched by Gov. Abbott, other state leaders

For the past six decades, Texas has been front and center when it comes to space exploration. On Tuesday, the Lone Star State took one giant leap toward cementing that status in the years to come.

"Texas is the leader in space exploration," said Gov. Greg Abbott. "We need to be in the forefront for the future."

Abbott and other state leaders officially launched the Texas Space Commission on Tuesday at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"We have the best and the brightest standing behind us right now, ready to serve the state of Texas," said House Speaker Dade Phelan.

The commission includes several former astronauts. It was spearheaded by legislation passed at the Texas Capitol, and will work to promote innovation in the space industry.

"The future of Texas legacy in aerospace is bright as we take more giant leaps in space exploration together," said Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche.

That means more partnerships between NASA and Texas companies, across fields like artificial intelligence, robotics, biotech and more.

"The Texas economy will benefit significantly from the ancillary job creation and growth," said Wyche.

"It’s the economic investment that NASA has made in the state of Texas and at Texas has made in NASA," said Phelan.

The commission aims to help NASA with goals like completing the International Space Station, returning to the moon and even going to Mars.

"Texas will be the launch pad for Mars," said Abbott.

Universities across the state will play a major role when it comes to space-related research.

"This next generation of Texans will be figuratively and in reality, reaching for the stars," said Phelan.

The governor even challenged those Texas schools to a 21st-century space race.

"With our universities competing to be who will be first, to have a degree program in space engineering," said Abbott.