In advance of his appearance Friday afternoon in Cape Canaveral, the campaign of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney released a letter from several key figures in the American space community endorsing him, calling him someone who “will restore America’s space program”. “We have watched with dismay as President Obama dismantled the structure that was guiding both the government and commercial space sectors, while providing no purpose or vision or mission,” they write. “This failure of leadership has thrust the space program into disarray and triggered a dangerous erosion of our technical workforce and capabilities. In short, we have a space program unworthy of a great nation.”
They repeat earlier comments by Romney that he would bring together the civil, commercial, and military space sectors to find common ground and perhaps share resources. “He will create conditions for a strong and competitive commercial space industry that can contribute greatly to our national capabilities and goals,” they write. “And he will ensure that NASA returns its focus to the project of manned space exploration that uniquely affirms American strength and values around the globe.”
Among the letters signatories are former astronauts Bob Crippen and Gene Cernan; the latter has been one the most vocal ex-astronaut critics of the Obama Administration’s space policy. Former NASA administrator Mike Griffin is also a signatory, along with several other former space officials: Scott Pace (now head of George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute), Mark Albrecht, and Peter Marquez. (Albrecht has been critical of NASA’s evolution into a “risk-averse feudal empire”, as he put it in a talk in November.) The commercial side is represented by Eric Anderson of Space Adventures.