It looks like American astronauts are sick of hitchhiking.
In an open letter penned by Major General Charles Bolden and published in Wired, the head honcho of NASA excoriates the the current lack of interest in providing American astronauts with their own space shuttles. They are forced to instead hop aboard space flights to the International Space Station by way of Russia.
In the letter, Bolden reminds us that the last Space Shuttle flight occured in 2011, when the first historical wave of the Space Shuttle Program (officially known as the Space Transporation System, or STS) invariably ended. As the NASA official elucidates, the shutting down of STS was only meant to be a recouping period, and the use of Russian space shuttles as transporation a mere "stopgap."
Bolden, who is the current Administrator of NASA and served as an astronaut on four separate flights from 1986 through 1994, was clear about his discontent over the allocation of funds for domestic programs over other American (or, perhaps in this case, international) uses.
"What we do know for certain is that every dollar we invest in Moscow is a dollar we're not investing in American businesses in Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota or any of the 35 states where 350 American companies are working to allow the greatest country on Earth to once again launch our own astronauts into space," wrote Bolden.
The former astronaut also expressed concern over the money the current administration is spending on space exploration — which is, again, going to Russia.
"Just recently, NASA was left with no other choice but to write a $490 million check to our Russian counterparts so that we can get our own astronauts to the Space Station," stated Bolden. "It doesn't have to be this way. Congress can and should still fix this by investing in Commercial Crew."
In the end, Bolden poses an important question: "Do we invest in ourselves – in our businesses, our ingenuity, our people – or do we choose instead to send our tax-dollars to Russia?"
You can read the full letter here.
Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | Flickr