Texas Sen. Ted Cruz supports NASA's human space exploration program as a national priority that deserves congressional support.

USA Today reports if NASA's program goes as planned, astronauts could travel to Mars by the 2030s.

Cruz, a Tea Party Republican, said developing a rocket and capsule that could cost tens of billions of dollars is "critical" to ensuring American's leadership in space.

"It is imperative that America has the capability to get to the space station without the assistance of the Russians," Cruz said Tuesday while chairing a hearing before the Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Science, Space and Competitiveness. "The Commercial Crew Program is critical to restoring this capability."

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, the top Democrat on the space subcommittee, also supports more funding for the space program.

"We shouldn't be relying on the Russians to ride (to the space station)," Nelson said referring to tensions between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine. "They were a reliable partner ... but we can't predict what Vladimir Putin is going to do now."

Yet, Former Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, is not in favor of the space program.

"In the '70s, we learned how to go and land on the moon and stay and do some things there," Aldrin said. "To do that again 50 years later just does not seem to be something that would be attractive."

Former Apollo 7 astronaut Walt Cunningham said NASA's funding amounts to about one-half of one percent of the federal budget so debating about the space program is just academic at the moment.

"Unless Congress decides to put more money in it, this is just talk we're going through here," he told the senators. "The budget has to go up."

The trip to Mars could face major delays if the funding is not increased. It is not clear if Cruz's public support of NASA's human exploration may translate into more funding.