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THE NATION

Glenn Criticizes Bush's Mars Proposal

NASA shouldn't abandon research on international space station, he tells panel.

March 05, 2004|From Reuters

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — U.S. space pioneer John Glenn said Thursday that President Bush's space exploration plan "pulls the rug out from under our scientists" and might waste too much money to ever put astronauts on Mars.

Glenn, a retired Democratic senator from Ohio and the first U.S. astronaut to orbit Earth, said NASA should not abandon research on the international space station, and he questioned the advisability of using the moon as a steppingstone to Mars.

His rebuke of the Bush plan came in testimony before a presidential panel charged with developing a strategy for building a permanent base on the moon, then sending astronauts on to Mars. The panel met at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

Glenn's most critical comments were reserved for NASA's plans to gut the international space station of a research agenda, limiting scientists only to studies applicable to the moon and Mars program.

"We have projects that are planned or in the queue now, projects that people -- academics and laboratories and companies -- have spent millions of dollars to get ready," he said. "That pulls the rug out from under our scientists who placed their faith in NASA, and our scientists within NASA who devoted years and years to their work."

NASA spokesman Glen Mahone said research on the space station would continue but would be limited to the effects of space flight on human physiology. "We're going to do the research that's important for us to fulfill the president's vision," Mahone said.

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