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Why Obama rejected John Glenn's plea to save the space shuttle progam

In a 40-minute plea at the White House to save the US space shuttle, John Glenn said that relying on the Russians to get US astronauts into space was a mistake. Why did President Obama turn him down?

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Nonsense, says Lori Garver, Obama’s space adviser during his campaign and now the deputy administrator of NASA. The Obama administration believes fully in human space exploration, she says, but Constellation was “unsustainable and unsound.”

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But some of the president’s friends worry that, as Giffords wrote last year, Obama’s space policy “discards five years and $10 billion of development of the Constellation program and offers little in return.”

Even Griffin admits there is plenty of political blame to go around, noting that Bush-era underfunding made Constellation vulnerable.

Meanwhile, the space gap looms for the nation whose dominance of space began fifty years ago this month, when President John F. Kennedy announced before a joint session of Congress the bold ambition of landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

Astronaut Michael Barratt notes that the Endeavour was named for the ship sailed by Captain James Cook on his perilous discovery voyage in 1769, and observes, “If you had gone back to Cook’s day and suggested that they stop sending ships out for a period of time while they huddled and designed a ship for the next generation, I think they would have all [chosen] suicide.”

Peter J. Boyer joined Newsweek/Daily Beast after spending 18 years as a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he wrote on a wide range of subjects, including politics, the military, religion, and sports. Before joining The New Yorker, Boyer was a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, and a television critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.” As a correspondent on the documentary series, Frontline, he won a George Foster Peabody Award, an Emmy, and consecutive Writers Guild Awards for his reporting. Boyer’s New Yorker articles have been included in the anthologies The Best American Political Writing, Best American Science Writing, Best American Spiritual Writing and Best American Crime Writing. He is at work on a book about American evangelism.

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