Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Griffin appeals for moving ahead to Moon

Katherine K. Lee City, Editor

n his talk before the Tuscaloosa Rotary Club’s regular meeting, Michael Griffin reiterated many points he originally brought up in an op-ed piece for the Washington Post published last month, saying that in the past 30 years, the U.S. has lost much of the momentum and vision that helped create the country’s space program in the first place.

He noted the recent commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the moon landing.

“That was the culmination of a decade of building,” he said. “It was a symbol for the impossible.”

But that achievement today, he added, would be nearly impossible to replicate. What’s needed is political leadership committed to increased and continued funding for space exploration.

Griffin, who was administrator of NASA from 2005 to 2009 and is now a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, criticized previous administrations dating back to President Richard Nixon that, he said, carved away much of the funding for space exploration to the point that the U.S. will no longer be a leader in space if it continues on its current funding pace.

“It is a poor reflection on history and us as a nation” to decrease emphasis on space exploration, Griffin said.

“As long as space is a frontier, the U.S. should be at its edge,” he said.

He said that NASA’s focus on continuing the space shuttle program and developing the International Space Station in partnership with other countries was to the detriment of America’s future in space. He noted that the shuttle is scheduled to be retired in another couple of years and there is no firm commitment to another space project on the scale of the moon landing.

Griffin said the U.S. should be in a leadership position on projects such as returning to the moon and going to Mars, rather than leaving the future of space to other countries such as Russia or China...

Read the editorial in full, HERE.

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