LOST IN SPACE – AT 10:58 A.M. ET: I realize that reader opinions vary on this, but I, for one, am appalled at what Obama is doing with the space program. Aside from the scientific and defense benefits that we've derived from the program, it is a symbol – a spectacular one – of American greatness and leadership.
That symbol is fading, and some of the greatest names associated with the program are outraged:
The first and last men to walk upon the moon have testified at a Congressional hearing that NASA is a national disgrace.
The US space program is "embarrassing and unacceptable," said Neil Armstrong, who on July 21, 1969, first set foot on the surface of the earthly companion that, in his testimony, he referred to as Luna.
"Today we are on a path of decay," testified fellow ex-astronaut Eugene Cernan, who said goodbye to Luna on December 14, 1972, bringing the curtain down on the US Apollo program.
Being 81 and 77 years old, repectively, and having achieved much in their careers, Armstrong and Cernan have nothing to prove nor favor to curry – and their comments reflected that freedom.
"Our choices are to lead," Armstrong said, "to try to keep up, or to get out of the way. A lead, however earnestly and expensively won, once lost, is nearly impossible to regain."
"Now is the time to overrule this Administration's pledge to mediocrity," said Cernan.
Armstrong decried NASA's downward spiral. "We will have no American access to, and return from, low Earth orbit and the International Space Station for an unpredictable length of time in the future," he said. "For a country that has invested so much for so long to achieve a leadership position in space exploration and exploitation, this condition is viewed by many as lamentably embarrassing and unacceptable."
Cernan also lambasted NASA for losing its way. Referring to the "space race" of the 1960s, when the US competed with the then–Soviet Union, he said: "As unimaginable as it seems, we have now come full circle and ceded our leadership role in space back to the same country, albeit with a different name, that spurred our challenge five decades ago."
Cernan was also clear about whom he blamed for what he sees as the current dismal state of affairs, citing "NASA and the present Administration's now obvious agenda to dismantle a space program that has been five decades in the making."
COMMENT: Pretty pathetic, yes? Did you ever think we would come to this? But the people running the country right now, and their worshippers in the press, have no problem with American decline. They think we're a dangerous country that should be restrained. As for space, let someone else do it, as we keep promoting "green" jobs that don't exist.
Do you ever wonder what happens to those skilled NASA engineers and technicians who are laid off? Those talents are being lost, possibly forever.
Who will pay? Our children.
September 24, 2011