Today marks 40 years since the moon landing, and the walk on the moon by Neil Armstrong,Â a day to be celebrated and commemorated with great pride.
I remember vividly the excitement felt all through the 1960s, as the space program united and boosted the spirits of the American people,Â from the Mercury program and the original seven astronautsÂ (including Alan Shepard and John Glenn), to the Gemini programÂ (including the tragic loss of three astronauts on the launch pad in 1967),Â to the Apollo program and the trips to the moon leading up to the landing and walking on the moon on this day in 1969.Â Â We continued to go to the moon and explore through 1972,Â then delayedÂ making further progress until the space shuttle program began under President Reagan,Â and then
further space accomplishments we have witnessedÂ since then, but unfortunately due to end in September 2010.
I have always been a believer in space exploration and strongly opposed the stopping of the main components of the space program after 1972,Â and the lack of purpose that now seems to exist in the space program after next year’s last scheduled space shuttle.Â We need to go back to the moon and to plan for Mars exploration and beyond,Â not just because of curiosity and intellectual interest, but because of its value scientifically.Â Many advances in science and medicine have made the space program worthwhile,Â and we certainly don’t want to leave it to other nations to make the advances in space while we sit on the sidelines.Â If we do that, we will regret it in the future.
Meanwhile, let’s continue to honor the heroes of the space program, including those who gave their lives in the three tragedies that took place in the name of progress.Â This is a time for renewal of our commitment to world leadership in the exploration of space!