Nix NASA Completely, Apollo Astronaut Says
2011 05 27

By Natalie Wolchover | Space.com

NASA should be scrapped in favor of a new agency, one with the sole objective of furthering America’s exploration of deep space. So says Harrison Schmitt, the last man to set foot on the moon, in a proposal published online today (May 25).

Schmitt, a member of Apollo 17 in 1972 and later a one-term U.S. senator, proposed that the new space agency be called the National Space Exploration Administration.


Astronaut Harrison Schmitt collects lunar rake samples during an Apollo 17 moonwalk in December 1973.
CREDIT: NASA

Fifty years after John F. Kennedy’s famous speech that set America on its glorious path to the moon, Schmitt, 75, said NASA has lost its focus. The Apollo program helped win the Cold War, strengthened national unity and set up the United States to take control of lunar resources, but NASA has withered under later presidencies, including Barack Obama’s, Schmitt said.

"I don’t blame NASA as much as I blame various administrations for not recognizing the geopolitical importance of space," he told SPACE.com. [Video: President Kennedy’s Moonshot Moment]

Schmitt’s call for overhauling the space program is partly a response to Obama’s 2012 budget, which critics say increased the funding for space technology research at NASA but did not provide adequate funding for deep-space exploration.

Other Apollo astronauts have lamented the lack of focus on exploration.

In a May 24 op-ed in USA Today, Apollo mission commanders Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan wrote, "After a half-century of remarkable progress, a coherent plan for maintaining America’s leadership in space exploration is no longer apparent."

Apollo 17 crewmates Cernan and Schmitt were the world’s last moonwalkers.

If formed in 2013, the proposed NSEA could send Americans back to the moon by 2020, Schmitt says, and establish lunar settlements and Mars exploration and settlements in the decades after that. It also would develop the ability to deflect Earth-bound asteroids. All of NASA’s current scientific endeavors would be within the purview of the National Science Foundation and other government-funded science organizations.

The significance of space

Schmitt believes refocusing on space exploration is crucial for the United States to maintain its status as a superpower.

"This is not just a competition between nations; it’s a competition between freedom and tyranny," Schmitt said. "The United States is the only power on Earth today that has in its DNA a protection of liberty, and if we decide to back off from space or any other major human endeavor, then we put that liberty in jeopardy.

"The Obama administration has basically said that they won’t pursue an exceptional space program for the United States and that they’re just as happy to have China move forward into deep space, and be dependent on Russia for transport to the International Space Station."

Schmitt, who was elected to the Senate in 1976 as a Republican from New Mexico, says China’s domination of deep space and Russia’s domination of near-Earth space would lower America’s international standing of the U.S. in the same way the Soviet Union winning the space race would have changed the outcome of the Cold War.

On top of the perceptions and politics, Schmitt argues that deep-space exploration is necessary for controlling space resources ? in particular, a fusion fuel called helium-3 that comes from the sun and is preserved in lunar soils. "Under certain financial constraints, helium-3 can be economically viable as a fuel for fusion power reactors here on Earth, and to have that dominated by another power such as China I think would be very dangerous for us. That’s just another aspect of the geopolitical significance of exploration," Schmitt said.

Read the full article at: space.com




Related Articles
Private space capsule launched
’UFO’ Spotted Over Australia "Likely a Private Rocket"?
Private Space Age Turns 4
The Alien Moon - Why NASA Never Returned To The Moon
NASA sells shuttle PCs without wiping secret data
To Boldly Go to New Worlds, NASA Announces ’100-Year Starship’
USA already went to Mars : NASA astronaut Gene Cernan
Was NASA’s plan to return to the moon just an illusion?
Right Stuff, Wrong Sex: NASA’s Lost Female Astronauts


Latest News from our Front Page

Recent Israeli Synagogue Attack, a Possible False Flag?
2014 11 21
Dear Friends - I woke up yesterday morning to see a newspaper lying on the kitchen table with the front page proclaiming that five people were slain in an Israeli synagogue after a so-called "Palestinian attack." Some members of the media said that four people were killed, others said five, so it seems like that there was some confusion (or ...
The Michael Brown Shooting, Race Baiting for Political Power and Militarization of the Police
2014 11 21
From Youtube: The evidence clearly shows that Officer Darren Wilson was justified in shooting Michael Brown, so why is this case being hyped by the mainstream media and the leftist political establishment?
Detekt: A New Malware Detection Tool That Can Expose Illegitimate State Surveillance
2014 11 21
Recent years have seen a boom in the adoption of surveillance technology by governments around the world, including spyware that provides its purchasers the unchecked ability to target remote Internet users’ computers, to read their personal emails, listen in on private audio calls, record keystrokes and passwords, and remotely activate their computer’s camera or microphone. EFF, together with Amnesty International, ...
New UK spy chief says tech giants aid terrorism, privacy not ‘absolute right’
2014 11 21
Robert Hannigan, the new head of GCHQ The new head of Britain’s GCHQ, the UK equivalent of the NSA in the U.S., said he believes privacy is not an absolute right and that tech giants must open themselves up to intelligence agencies. “GCHQ is happy to be part of a mature debate on privacy in the digital age,” Hannigan said. “But privacy ...
LOL: Atheist Feminist Pornographer Used as Moral Authority in T-shirt Row
2014 11 21
Dr. Matt Taylor was thrust into the headlines this last week, largely for his lead role in successfully landing a spacecraft on a comet 300 million miles from earth that travels at a speed of 85,000 mph. In short, Taylor and his colleagues pulled off one of the most amazing achievements in contemporary science and space exploration, and in a ...
More News »