Astronaut families press NASA's case with administration
A group memorializing astronauts killed in the line of duty and their families has invoked their names in an effort to convince the Obama administration to drop its planned changes to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The group's outreach comes as lawmakers and other space advocates have called on the White House to continue with plans to return Americans to the moon by 2020.
The Astronauts Memorial Foundation, an educational foundation honoring the 24 Americans killed during space mission missions, said altering NASA's future would run counter to their sacrifice.
"All of the astronauts who have flown subsequently would tell you that they succeeded by standing on the shoulders of their fallen colleagues," AMF Chairman Michael J. McCulley wrote in a letter sent to President Obama. "Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins were only able to fly Apollo 11 to the moon after we lost Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee on a simulated countdown to Apollo 1."
"In order to honor those astronauts and their families who have sacrificed for all of the benefits of human exploration, and to allow Americans continued pride in our space program, we urge you to vigorously support uninterrupted continuation of U.S. human space flight systems, including the Space Shuttle, and to maintain NASA’s leadership in space exploration," McCulley wrote in his letter sent last Friday that was first released publicly on Wednesday.
AMF's outreach is less harsh than recent comments by former astronauts and lawmakers from space states, including Alabama, Florida and Texas. But it's part of a growing chorus of scientists, space buffs and business leaders concerned with the White House's plans to kill NASA's Constellation program and essentially privatize future space transportation efforts.
Former U.S. senator and astronaut Harrison Schmitt told The Post this week that Obama's plans are "bad for the country."
"This administration really does not believe in American exceptionalism," Schmitt said.
President Obama will host a summit on the future of American space exploration in Florida next month in response to the growing criticism.
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| March 10, 2010; 3:34 PM ET
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