On July 12, 1969 Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the surface of the moon.
|Neil Armstrong aboard the Eagle lunar module on the surface of the moon July 12, 1969|
|Buzz Aldrin photographed by Neil Armstrong visible in the reflection from Aldrin's sun visor.|
In a recent rare public interview for Australian television, Armstrong said he was "substantially concerned about the policy directions of the Space Agency which are in fact directed by the [Obama]Administration." The statement matches earlier public concerns Armstrong raised in 2010 when the Obama Administration canceled the rocket program that would have maintained our ability to put astronauts into space. We now rely on the Russians to do that at tremendous cost to the taxpayer and the loss of thousands of highly skilled aerospace jobs in this country.
In that earlier letter, also signed by two other Apollo astronauts, Armstrong said this:
When President Obama recently released his budget for NASA, he proposed a slight increase in total funding, substantial research and technology development, an extension of the International Space Station operation until 2020, long range planning for a new but undefined heavy lift rocket and significant funding for the development of commercial access to low earth orbit.At a time when Democrats like Obama consider maintaining America's edge in space technology a luxury we cannot afford (but we can flush billions down a green energy rat hole) the Chinese are going full steam ahead on plans to plant their flag on the moon. Once that happens it may be too late for the U.S. to restore the edge we are so carelessly tossing away today!
Although some of these proposals have merit, the accompanying decision to cancel the Constellation program, its Ares 1 and Ares V rockets, and the Orion spacecraft, is devastating.
America’s only path to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station will now be subject to an agreement with Russia to purchase space on their Soyuz (at a price of over 50 million dollars per seat with significant increases expected in the near future) until we have the capacity to provide transportation for ourselves.
It appears that we will have wasted our current ten plus billion dollar investment in Constellation and, equally importantly, we will have lost the many years required to recreate the equivalent of what we will have discarded.
For The United States, the leading space faring nation for nearly half a century, to be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destines our nation to become one of second or even third rate stature. While the President's plan envisages humans traveling away from Earth and perhaps toward Mars at some time in the future, the lack of developed rockets and spacecraft will assure that ability will not be available for many years.
Without the skill and experience that actual spacecraft operation provides, the USA is far too likely to be on a long downhill slide to mediocrity. America must decide if it wishes to remain a leader in space. If it does, we should institute a program which will give us the very best chance of achieving that goal.
Commander, Apollo 11
Commander, Apollo 13
Commander, Apollo 17