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Where’s the Vision? – Letter from Carpenter, Cernan, Duke, Buckbee February 18, 2010

Posted by skywalking1 in Space.

Apollo 11 launch, July 16, 1969 (NASA)

Scott Carpenter flew Mercury-Atlas 7. Gene Cernan flew Gemini 9, Apollo 10, and walked the Moon on Apollo 17. Charlie Duke landed on the Moon on Apollo 16. Ed Buckbee authored “The Real Space Cowboys.”

February 15, 2010

Dear Mr.  & Mrs. America:

There has never been, and likely never will be, another government program that expedites technological innovation so much as the U.S. space program.  There is not another program that has so successfully rallied a nation, inspired youngsters toward academic achievement or established the U.S. as the world leader in technology.

The manned space program has, in particular, been a source of our nation’s strength and character.  But an Achilles heel in the form of our country’s executive branch threatens a mortal wound. Under the Obama 2011 budget, the U.S. will no longer ferry humans into space— no moon, no Mars.  The source of much of America’s inspiration and spirit, the impetus for so much discovery, technology and imagination, is in jeopardy.  The demise of America’s space program is just another step in the dismantling of our nation.

Where’s the vision put so eloquently in 1962 when President Kennedy said,” serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.” President Kennedy delivered a vision to the American public that demanded courage, imagination and follow-through. The long-term focus has always been to progressively conquer new frontiers.  Certainly, that focus has been shared by both government and private enterprise but to withdraw government from manned space flight will surely obliterate those far-reaching frontiers and precipitously lower our nation’s preeminence in technology.

We are the only country to ever conquer the high ground, the moon.  And now we are to give that up to the Russians and Chinese who are committed to having a permanent presence there? The national security implications are starkly real.  From the high ground, foreign governments will have greater access to monitor U.S. technology assets in Earth orbit.  Whoever controls the high ground becomes the world’s leader in technology.

We ask you to join those members of Congress who have the fortitude and courage to embrace the vision that has become part of our nation’s signature and who are advocates of returning to the moon and maintaining America’s leadership role in the exploration of space.


Mercury, Gemini and Apollo Astronauts

Scott Carpenter

Gene Cernan

Charlie Duke


The Real Space Cowboys

Creator Ed Buckbee


1. skywalking1 - February 18, 2010

Dear Mr. Acosta:
This is a blog. I’ve not put you on any list.

2. Paul Novak - March 8, 2010

I like what they have to say, and agree with 99% of it. The part about “just another step in the dismantling of our nation.” however rubs the wrong way. It smells of partisanship, and makes me worry about this becoming another conservative talking point in the war of ideologies, that has already cost this country too much.

If anyone wants to make a good case, then they would be best served leaving party lines and political theatrics out of it if that is in fact what this line implies. My first impulse was to post an excerpt and linkback, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it after doing a double take.

3. Mark Bernard - March 13, 2010

I am deeply shocked by the reaction of these Space veterans.

I have been following Space exploration since the 1960’s and have seen the ups and downs of the NASA space program. I have read the reports by committees that in the last decades were asked to examine a worthwhile space program. I have read the Augustine report. I have read the VSE and the budget proposal for 2011 and the remarks by Charles Bolden. In my view the direction by Bolden and Obama is a return to the VSE and in addition accelerates the development of HLV capabilities.
Unless the veterans think Sean O’Keefe and George Bush got it all wrong when the VSE was presented. But why didn’t the veterans react back then? Gene Cernan was there when George Bush presented the VSE. A year after the VSE was announced Michael Griffin started the Constellation program, effectively ignoring much of what the VSE is all about and disregarding what the budget should be used for according to the VSE. Going instead for an Apollo take II. He showed a lack of vision, not the current administration.
The current administration is showing true courage and spirit in getting NASA back on course of the VSE, going for simultaneous robotic precursor missions to moon, mars and asteroids. Looking at the use of currently available lauch vehicles and research to upgrade these to crew and HLV, and developing new technologies to get us truly anywhere in the solar system. Even if that means not leading HSF for a while.
It’s brave, it’s bold, it’s VSE again and I’m very proud to see it happen.

I have the highest respect for the veterans and can not thank them enough for what they have done. But I can not understand their objection to this brave and badly needed course correction by Bolden and Obama.

4. Sean Donalds - March 16, 2010

It’s good to see the passion shown by the astronauts, but I too have a number of objections to what is stated in the letter.

1. Presently the only project that is supposed to get us to the moon again is Constellation. A project that is costing more money than was foreseen, is way behind schedule and will not get us to the moon any time soon according to the Augustine committee. The new budget proposal therefore cancels Constellation and chooses for one of the approaches suggested by the Augustine committee. The conclusions and suggestions of the Augustine committee are based upon interviews with experts from NASA, industry and politics. That gives it considerable weight.

2. I don’t think that a program based on fear of what ‘they’ might or will do, will help us forward.

3. As the Apollo project has shown, a government based program can not maintain adequate funding for such a high profile program for very long. A lot of people simply don’t think it’s worth the money when there are other, to them more urgent, problems to which the money could go.

4. The current budget proposal focuses on what we as a nation can do, using a mixture of currently available technology, commercial input and research and development for new high technology. And this time in a more sustainable way, so that if we do go out there it will not be a once in a lifetime event anymore.

I understand the concerns expressed, but I do think the new budget proposal is for the best and will get us to the moon and mars sooner rather than not or later. But I also think that the government must make sure that there are some safety measures built into the new road, so that we will get there.

Paul - March 17, 2010

I’d like to point out, that our entire military budget is based on “fear” of what “they” might do. And Nasa’s space program funding is a pittance in comparison.

5. 2010 in review « Astronaut Tom Jones: Flight Notes - January 3, 2011

[…] Where’s the Vision? – Letter from Carpenter, Cernan, Duke, Buckbee February 2010 5 comments 5 […]

6. Randhil - January 8, 2015

A prvvocatioe insight! Just what we need!

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