Spaceflight Insider

Eileen Collins at RNC: We need leadership that will make America great again

Commander_Eileen_Collins NASA photo posted on SpaceFlight Insider

Photo Credit: NASA

Four-time Space Shuttle veteran Eileen Collins spoke at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, for about three-and-a-half minutes concerning the United States’ history in terms of exploration. She made her comments on the 47th anniversary of the July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 lunar landing.

During her presentation, Collins noted that Apollo 11 was flown, in part, as directed by a challenge made by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Since the Apollo Program came to an end in the early 1970s, the U.S. space agency has not sent astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit.

Collins went on to note that since the Shuttle program drew to a close in 2011, NASA has not been able to launch astronauts on its own. This drew boos and other sounds of derision from those in attendance.

At present, all U.S. astronauts fly to the International Space Station, the current sole destination in LEO, via the Russian Soyuz rocket and spacecraft. NASA has stated it hopes to launch crews via commercially-produced spacecraft—SpaceXs Crew Dragon and Boeings CST-100 Starliner—as early as 2018. However, these efforts would be through Boeing and SpaceX, which would provide transportation services to the space agency under the Commercial Crew Program.

In terms of NASA, the agency is working to conduct the first crewed flight of their Orion spacecraft, and the massive Space Launch System rocket meant to launch it, as early as 2023. This is according to reports appearing on Engadget and via NASA (which places the mission sometime in the mid-2020s).

Orion was originally part of the Constellation Program, which was proposed to be cancelled by the Obama Administration in the 2011 budget request, according to a reports appearing in the Washington Post, the BBC, and through the White HouseIt was officially cancelled in NASA Authorization Act of 2010, which Obama signed Oct. 11, 2010.

Collins denoted her place in history as the first woman to command a Space Shuttle mission (STS-93 on board Columbia in 1999). She would again assume that position in 2005 as the commander of Discovery‘s STS-114 mission, the Return to Flight of the shuttle after the loss of Columbia in 2003.

Collins did not endorse the Republican Party’s nominee, instead focusing her comments on renewing the U.S.’ space exploration efforts. She did, however, use language similar to that used by the Trump Campaign.

“We need leadership that will make America’s space program first again,” Collins said, adding: “We need leadership that will make America – great again!”

Video courtesy ABC 15 Arizona


Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

Reader Comments

As a astronaut who has had the experience of viewing the Earth from space and working with her fellow cosmonauts, I hope she recognizes that Trump has already started killing off America’s relationship with other countries. We do need a strong space program in the United States, but that space program should be working along side its international partners. We all live on this spaceship Earth and the Apollo program helped us to see our planet from another perspective. Trump would only divide us from the rest of our fellow human beings. With that said, I don’t think Hillary would be any better.

Funny she would speak at the RNC convention, because they will propose programs but will not fund them. Thank god President Obama has gotten SpaceX and Boeing to return us to flight next year. Too bad the GOP won’t fund that either, because that manned flight could have been two years ago, if properly funded. Thanks Eileen.

one thing you got to be aware of is, is no american president , republican or democrat, wants to be the one to end american manned space, eventually and obama has not been the end of us manned space flight not at all, its going through a real evolution now, but americans will launch, soon from us soil,2017, hopefully

It does sadden me that congress ended plans for EM 2. At the same time, human space flight is changing dramatically as the ISS shuts down in 2024 and more time will be invested into deep space missions. Another good thing is that commercial companies have managed to get to LEO. They are independent of governmental funding and could get us to Mars some day.

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