Thursday, April 15, 2010

Neil Armstrong and 25 NASA Legends Blast President Obama's Space Plan On Open Letter to U.S. President Obama...

Scott Carpenter & Neil Armstrong

Along With 25 NASA Legends

Blast President Obama's Space Plan

Scott Carpenter and Neil Armstrong are known for being outspoken and straightforward, and today, along with 25 other NASA legends, sent President Obama an open letter with a fascinating message. I must admit that when I first heard that the Obama administration was planning to cancel the Constellation program, I was shocked as well!!!

It is great to see all these NASA legends and Astronauts, some of whom are former test pilots taking a stand for such an important issue. You can add my name to the list!!!

Apollo 11 Team meets with President Obama on July 20, 2009 on 40th Anniversary of Lunar Landing

From Left To Right: Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong, President Obama

Apollo 11 Team in 1969. From Left To Right: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin

On Open Letter to U.S. President Obama

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 worldwide 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.

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 $10-plus billion 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.

Scott Carpenter

Mercury Astronaut

Neil Armstrong

Commander, Apollo 11

James Lovell

Commander, Apollo 13

Eugene Cernan

Commander, Apollo 17

Chris Kraft

Johnson Space Center Past Director

Jack Lousma

Skylab 3, STS 3

Vance Brand

Apollo-Soyuz, STS-5, STS-41B, STS-35

Bob Crippen

STS-1, STS-7, STS-41C, STS-41G, Kennedy Space Center Past Director

Michael D. Griffin

Past NASA Administrator

Ed Gibson

Skylab 4

Jim Kennedy

Kennedy Space Center Past Director

Alan Bean

Apollo 12, Skylab 3

Alfred M. Worden

Apollo 15

Glynn Lunney

Gemini-Apollo Flight Director

Jim McDivitt Gemini 4

Apollo 9 Apollo Spacecraft Program Manager

Gene Kranz

Gemini-Apollo Flight Director, NASA Mission Ops. Past Director

Joe Kerwin

Skylab 2

Fred Haise

Apollo 13, Shuttle Landing Tests

Gerald Carr

Skylab 4

Jake Garn

STS-51D, U.S. Senator

Charlie Duke

Apollo 16

Bruce McCandless

STS-41B, STS-31

Frank Borman

Gemini 7, Apollo 8

Paul Weitz

Skylab 2, STS-6

George Mueller

Past Associate Administrator For Manned Space Flight

Harrison Schmitt

Apollo 17, U.S. Senator

Dick Gordon

Gemini 11, Apollo 12

Rolex Coolness: Michael Collins
First Known Photo Of a NASA Astronaut Wearing Rolex
Gemini 10 [1966]

I thought I would include this photo of Michael Collins who was part of the Apollo 11 Mission Team that was the first to land on the moon. Michael Collins is pictured in the two photos at the top of this story and he is pictured in the center in the photo of the Apollo team in 1969 (pictured above).

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first photo of a NASA astronaut wearing a Rolex watch at NASA, and Collins is wearing a Rolex Turn-O-Graph. This photos was taken in 1966 when Collins was part of the Gemini 10 Mission Team.

At first glance, it appears as if Michael Collins is wearing a Rolex Submariner, but when we zoom-in really close we see the tell-tale sings that it is a Rolex Turn-O-Graph, which it has been argued, the Submariner was based upon. The distinguishing characteristic that proves it is a Rolex Turn-O-Graph is the bezel insert has individual minute markers on the black bezel insert as seen below.


Jake's Rolex World reader, Daryl Dayian sent in a link to the following video that offers another perspective on the issue:

Also, I found this video of Buzz Aldrin defending Obama's plan