Gene Cernan's personal site here.
The first man to walk on the moon blasted President Barack Obama’s decision to cancel NASA’s back-to-the-moon program on Tuesday, saying that the move is “devastating” to America’s space effort.
Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong’s open letter was also signed by Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon; and Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell, who is marking the 40th anniversary of his famous lunar non-landing this week.
The letter was released to NBC News just two days in advance of Obama’s trip to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a space policy summit. Obama is expected to flesh out his vision for the space agency's future during his speech at the summit.
Here is the letter that Neil Armstrong, Eugene Cernan and James Lovell wrote:
The United States entered into the challenge of space exploration under President Eisenhower’s first term, however, it was the Soviet Union who excelled in those early years. Under the bold vision of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, and with the overwhelming approval of the American people, we rapidly closed the gap in the final third; of the 20th century, and became the world leader in space exploration.
America’s space accomplishments earned the respect and admiration of the world. Science probes were unlocking the secrets of the cosmos; space technology was providing instantaneous world wide communication; orbital sentinels were helping man understand the vagaries of nature. Above all else, the people around the world were inspired by the human exploration of space and the expanding of man’s frontier. It suggested that what had been thought to be impossible was now within reach. Students were inspired to prepare themselves to be a part of this new age. No government program in modern history has been so effective in motivating the young to do “what has never been done before.”
World leadership in space was not achieved easily. In the first half century of the space age, our country made a significant financial investment, thousands of Americans dedicated themselves to the effort, and some gave their lives to achieve the dream of a nation. In the latter part of the first half century of the space age, Americans and their international partners focused primarily on exploiting the near frontiers of space with the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station.
As a result of the tragic loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003, it was concluded that our space policy required a new strategic vision. Extensive studies and analysis led to this new mandate: meet our existing commitments, return to our exploration roots, return to the moon, and prepare to venture further outward to the asteroids and to Mars. The program was named 'Constellation'. In the ensuing years, this plan was endorsed by two Presidents of different parties and approved by both Democratic and Republican congresses.
The Columbia Accident Board had given NASA a number of recommendations fundamental to the Constellation architecture which were duly incorporated. The Ares rocket family was patterned after the Von Braun Modular concept so essential to the success of the Saturn 1B and the Saturn 5. A number of components in the Ares 1 rocket would become the foundation of the very large heavy lift Ares V, thus reducing the total development costs substantially. After the Ares 1 becomes operational, the only major new components necessary for the Ares V would be the larger propellant tanks to support the heavy lift requirements.
The design and the production of the flight components and infrastructure to implement this vision was well underway. Detailed planning of all the major sectors of the program had begun. Enthusiasm within NASA and throughout the country was very high.
When President Obama recently released his budget for NASA, he proposed a slight increase in total funding, substantial research and technology development, an extension of the International Space Station operation until 2020, long range planning for a new but undefined heavy lift rocket and significant funding for the development of commercial access to low earth orbit.
Although some of these proposals have merit, the accompanying decision to cancel the Constellation program, its Ares 1 and Ares V rockets, and the Orion spacecraft, is devastating.
America’s only path to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station will now be subject to an agreement with Russia to purchase space on their Soyuz (at a price of over 50 million dollars per seat with significant increases expected in the near future) until we have the capacity to provide transportation for ourselves. The availability of a commercial transport to orbit as envisioned in the President’s proposal cannot be predicted with any certainty, but is likely to take substantially longer and be more expensive than we would hope.
It appears that we will have wasted our current ten plus billion dollar investment in Constellation and, equally importantly., we will have lost the many years required to recreate the equivalent of what we will have discarded.
For The United States, the leading space faring nation for nearly half a century, to be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destines our nation to become one of second or even third rate stature. While the President's plan envisages humans traveling away from Earth and perhaps toward Mars at some time in the future, the lack of developed rockets and spacecraft will assure that ability will not be available for many years.
Without the skill and experience that actual spacecraft operation provides, the USA is far too likely to be on a long downhill slide to mediocrity. America must decide if it wishes to remain a leader in space. If it does, we should institute a program which will give us the very best chance of achieving that goal.
Commander, Apollo 11
Commander, Apollo 13
Commander, Apollo 17
Yuri A. Gagarin was born on a collective farm in a region west of Moscow, Russia on March 9, 1934. His father was a carpenter. Yuri attended the local school for six years and continued his education at vocational and technical schools.
Yuri Gagarin joined the Russian Air Force in 1955 and graduated with honors from the Soviet Air Force Academy in 1957. Soon afterward, he became a military fighter pilot. By 1959, he had been selected for cosmonaut training as part of the first group of USSR cosmonauts.
Yuri Gagarin flew only one space mission. On April 12, 1961 he became the first human to orbit Earth. Major Yuri Gagarin's spacecraft, Vostok 1, circled Earth at a speed of 27,400 kilometers per hour. The flight lasted 108 minutes. At the highest point, Yuri Gagarin was about 327 kilometers above Earth.
Once in orbit, Yuri Gagarin had no control over his spacecraft. Vostok's reentry was controlled by a computer program sending radio commands to the space capsule. Although the controls were locked, a key had been placed in a sealed envelope in case an emergency situation made it necessary for Yuri Gagarin to take control. As was planned, Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin ejected after reentry into Earth's atmosphere and landed by parachute.
Colonel Yuri Gagarin died on March 27, 1968 when the MiG-15 he was piloting crashed near Moscow. At the time of his death, Yuri Gagarin was in training for a second space mission.
Thousands packed Cocoa Expo on Sunday in a unified plea to President Obama to extend the shuttle program, send astronauts to the moon and Mars, and maintain America's lead in space and the inspiration the program inspires.From Florida Today here.
They waved signs that read, "Save Space." They warned of the national security implications of ceding dominance in space to Russia and China. And they worried about the estimated 8,000 Kennedy Space Center jobs that will go away when the shuttle lands for the last time.
However a new study found that cattle grazed on the grasslands of China actually reduce another greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide.
Authors of the paper, published in Nature, say the research does not mean that producing livestock to eat is good for the environment in all countries. However in certain circumstances, it can be better for global warming to let animals graze on grassland.
Concerns about the validity of NASA's climate research are being raised following revelations that the space agency admitted its data was less accurate than other weather trackers'. Disturbed by these reports, as well as the growing Climate-gate scandal that has left global-warming theorists reeling, Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and David Vitter (R-La.) have written a letter to space agency chief Charles Bolden demanding answers.
"The American people deserve to learn the truth about the data," Barrasso told FoxNews.com, stressing the risks of basing public policy on science that remains largely undecided.
Global warming has unthawed an entire race of warrior mermen and mermaids in the Arctic, scientists revealed today. At a packed press conference in Boulder, Colorado, Dr. Mark Xyzzy of the National Institute for Cryosphere Exploration and Tertiary Research on Yetis (NICETRY) revealed the details of the discovery: "We've been operating robot research submarines under the sea ice in the Chukchi Sea north of Barrow, Alaska this winter, as part of International Geophysical Year studies on the dynamics of arctic sea ice loss," commented Dr. Xyzzy. "Last week, one of our submersibles caught a remarkable video of a warrior mermaid, armed with a trident, riding past the submarine on the back of a narwhal. We were able to track the mermaid to her home--an underwater merfolk city at the bottom of the Chukchi Sea. The city had been thawed out in 2005 by warm water currents invading the Arctic due to global warming. These mermaids and mermen had been frozen into the underwater permafrost since the onset of the last ice age, 115,000 years ago. We undertook immediate efforts to establish communications with the merfolk, by sending in divers with underwater writing boards who were able to work out a simple symbol-based language. We learned that the Chukchi Sea merfolk are at war with a tribe of rival merfolk in the Greenland Sea. The two tribes have been fighting a heated underwater battle for dominance of the Arctic Ocean ever since global warming thawed out both tribes in 2005. It is the explosions from their undersea battles that have been the dominant cause of arctic sea ice loss since 2005, not global warming, as had been previously assumed. A team of experienced United Nations negotiators is now in the Arctic, attempting to broker a truce between the rivals and save the arctic sea ice from further destruction."