Eileen Collins at RNC: We need leadership that will make America great again
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—SpaceX‘s Crew Dragon and Boeing‘s 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 House. It 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, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.