Apollo Astronauts Lament Current State of Space Program

Apollo Astronauts Lament Current State of Space Program

Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan write in an op-ed in USA Today that President John F. Kennedy would be “sorely disappointed” if he knew the current state of the U.S. human spaceflight program. Today is the 50th anniversary of JFK’s “moon speech” that launched the Apollo program.

Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the Moon; Cernan was the last. Lovell commanded the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission.

The three former astronauts argue that the entrepreneurial companies that are promising to build new crew space transportation systems may find that the systems cost much more and take longer to develop than they expect: “Entrepreneurs in the space transportation business assert that they can offer such service at a very attractive price – conveniently not factoring in the NASA-funded development costs. These expenditures, including funds to insure safety and reliability, can be expected to be substantially larger and more time consuming than the entrepreneurs predict.”

“America’s leadership in space is slipping,” they warn, adding that “NASA’s human spaceflight program is in substantial disarray with no clear-cut mission in the offing….After a half century of remarkable progress, a coherent plan for maintaining America’s leadership in space exploration is no longer apparent.”

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