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  Dear Astronauts... - 2010-04-12 17:42:31
Dear Astronauts of the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas:

I just had to write you. I know I said I wasn't going to comment on NASA anymore in my last blog titled "Homer Shrugs," but the bad news keeps getting worse so I'm driven to the computer.

In case you haven't been paying attention, it appears that the Obama Administration simply is not going to listen to anyone and is going to proceed on its plans to shut down NASA's human spaceflight program. That means you have a target on your back (and your front, too). President Obama will be making a quick touchdown at Kennedy Space Center to announce this plan on Thursday, probably couching it in obtuse, meaningless inspirational language including a vacuous call to send Americans to Mars. He also will announce an increase to NASA's budget, then leap back onto Air Force One to go to Gloria Estefan's Miami mansion for a $30,000 a plate fundraiser.

Of course, he won't mention that most of that increase is going to be used to shut down NASA facilities, pay the Russians off, and create study after endless study that will go absolutely nowhere. You do realize that, don't you?

Mars? If we can't go to the moon, we sure can't go to Mars. It's idiotic to think we will without a real plan and there is no real plan except to use NASA as a slush fund to try to prove global warming. John Holdren, the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is a climate change loon who now has his hands on all the levers to make NASA into his image. In more serious societies, John Holdren would not be allowed anywhere near the center of power. He would be the daffy professor on the old bike teetering to his class where his students would snicker at him and throw spitballs when he turned his back. What have we come to in this country to put such a man over our space and science programs?

So listen to me carefully, all you in the CB Office of JSC, i.e. astronauts. Make no mistake. The Obama/Holdren plan means no more of you are going to fly into space except for maybe a few every year (for a little while) as passengers with the Russians. For those few of you who get to play spam in the can, we taxpayers get to pay through the nose to the tune of fifty million dollars for each seat you occupy. What you get to do, besides fly (don't touch anything, now), is to pretend that those smirks on the faces of your Russian trainers aren't because you are the representatives of a once great space power now reduced to the capability of, I don't know, say, Belgium.

Right now, there are around 120 of you in the Astronaut Office at Johnson Space Center. Most of you are now out of a job whether you are willing to admit it or not. You are NOT going to fly into space. You ARE going to be allowed to wear your blue suits and go around and pretend to be astronauts. Space campers are going to laugh at you since the kids will have better training facilities than you do. The Obama/Holdren plan is going to end up with Johnson Space Center tagged with a great big placard that announces: ABANDON IN PLACE.

The only way to head all this nonsense off, in my opinion, is for at least ONE of you to stand up and announce you have had it and you aren't going to take it any more. Is there not one of you willing to resign in the face of this treachery by NASA Administrator (and former astronaut) Charlie Bolden? Or at least voice a dissenting opinion?

You have your jobs because of the courage of men like Alan Shepard. What do you think Admiral Shepard would have done if the likes of John Holdren prissed himself up and said he was going to shut down the space program? After Herr Professor picked up his teeth, Shepard would have announced to the world he was no longer going to be a part of a hollow program and was going back to flying jets for the U. S. Navy. Just about every astronaut of the old breed would have done the same. How about you?

In my opinion, the only people left who can derail the end of NASA are you, the astronauts. During my entire time at NASA, every engineer, manager, technician, and janitor deferred to you. We treated you like gods. Nothing you said was ever wrong. How about giving a little back now? Stop this thing. Stand up and tell the world the emperor isn't wearing any clothes, that the space program he touts will destroy your hopes and dreams, not to mention all those who have supported you so well. What are you waiting for? Are you afraid it will keep you from flying? Get over it. You're not going anywhere unless you lower yourself to kowtow to your masters to crawl aboard the Russian Soyuz leaving the rest of your buddies still stranded on Earth. That's demeaning. You're better than that. Aren't you? The Right Stuff, remember?

So, there it is, my challenge to all the residents of the Astronaut Office. Let the powers that be know what you think. Show all deference to the President or the Administrator or even John Holdren but after you're through shaking their hands or saluting them, whatever is proper, turn your back on them. And you might also want to hold up a single finger showing that you believe the United States should still be the #1 space power. The choice of finger is up to you.

Your former colleague,

Homer Hickam


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