John Glenn: Keep shuttles flying

When we learn that we’d spend nearly as much money hitching rides on Russian rockets, what’s not to like about Glenn’s suggestion?

Living legend John Glenn says America should keep flying its space shuttle fleet rather than paying Russia to haul Americans to and from the International Space Station.

The country’s shuttle fleet is to be retired this year or next, leaving NASA without a spaceship of its own for years.

Glenn, who became the first American to orbit Earth in 1962, told NBC News that flying the space shuttle fleet beyond its currently scheduled retirement date in November would be the best use of taxpayer dollars.

“We’ll spend almost as much buying our astronauts seats on Russia’s Soyuz as we would to keep the shuttles flying,” Glenn said. “The cost of continuing shuttle is really very tiny compared to the $100 billion investment we’ve made in the station, and keeping shuttle flying, we’ll have the biggest spaceship ever to carry seven [astronauts] and tons of cargo.”

The 88-year-old Glenn speaks from the perspective of a seasoned politician as well as a spaceman. The Ohio Democrat served as a U.S. senator from 1975 to 1999, and made an unsuccessful run for the presidency in 1984. He flew on the space shuttle for a widely publicized mission in 1998, becoming the oldest human in orbit at the age of 77.

The retired senator-astronaut penned his concerns about America’s future space effort in an eight-page open letter released on Monday.

“Why terminate a perfectly good system that has been made more safe and reliable through its many years of development?” Glenn asked.

Why?

We’d have to ask a President who abhors American exceptionalism for an answer.  Oh wait… that is the answer. 

Anything to further that abhorring.

Crossposted at Brutally Honest.

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