Dear Astronauts - Homer Hickam

Mercury7astronauts.pngAmericaSpace Note: We were working on a post similar to Homer’s that called for the astronaut corps to…well, show a little bit of courage, something that is definitely supposed to be part of the Right Stuff, to stand-up for our nation’s human space flight program. The only people the American people will listen to on Space are the astronauts. Until astronauts start speaking with their feet, the death of our nation’s human space flight program will continue. Yes, we had a post being preped…but Homer makes the point that it’s time for the Astronauts to speak-up better than we could ever have. So, we are posting his full blog entry, which you can also find here Dear Astronauts,

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

5 comments to Dear Astronauts – Homer Hickam

  • Frank Sietzen

    Homer, my friend while I totally disagree with your bleak assessment of the future of human spaceflight under this administration, I must admit you’ve stated your case eloquently.

  • Ted Rettberg

    Homer,
    You hit the nail on the head. As as the last reply said, eloquently. I’m glad to see that at the time of this reply, some of the astronauts have come forward and sent a letter to our false president. I just hope that it is not too little too late.

  • Robert Springer

    Homer,
    Interesting statements-I agree in principle, and if you are following some of the news,
    I have been quoted as strongly disagreeing with Mr. Obama’s approach. Most recently, I was interviewed on CNN and to the extent that they would give me the time, made a statement that said the current approach is not going to succeed. But, then again, I have not written any books or capitalized on my participation in the space program, so I doubt that anyone will pay much attention to what I have said. But, I did spend nearly 20 years, after my stint with NASA, as a program manager, with Boeing, and say first hand what it takes to bring programs to fruition. The current plan, espoused by Mr. Obama will not get us there–it is under funded, has no real goal, plan or vision for the future. So I am not sure what you are looking for, but I will continue to raise issues with what is on the table–it is totally inadequate.
    Cheers,
    Bob

  • Homer
    I strongly agree with your comments. Interesting that the only open letters and comments are coming from the very group you site in your letter. Namely, the old guys. We have mostly all signed a letter written by Walt Cunningham, and have endorsed the letter signed by Neil, Jim and Gene. But you are right, it will take the same kind of courage from the current astronauts to make a difference. Have we changed that much?
    Al

  • Winston Scott

    Homer,
    YOu are absolutely correct in your assessment of the situation with our space program and the need for all (current and former) astros to speak up. I have appeared rather heavily in the media lately voicing my disagreement with the direction in which the current administration wants us to go. I, obviously, have had no impact on changing the administration’s decision. But if we all speak up, loudly and clearly, perhaps we can get this destructive plan to end America’s human space flight program stopped. Thanks for your words and your challenge.