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Neil Armstrong: U.S. Space Program Is 'Embarrassing' And Risks Losing Prominence

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Former astronaut Neil Armstrong, right, the first man to walk on the moon, testifies before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on NASA's proposed budget and the future of the manned space flight program on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) | AP

Perhaps the most famous astronaut of all time, Neil Armstrong, had some harsh words for the U.S. space program last week.

Testifying before Congress, Armstrong went as far as to call the nation's current space efforts "embarrassing and unacceptable," according to The Register. Armstrong, who became the first person to set foot on the moon in 1969, went on to detail NASA's dismal future, going as far as to say that without the ability to lead manned missions to space, the U.S. risks losing its leadership position in exploration.

"Our choices are to lead, to try to keep up, or to get out of the way. A lead, however earnestly and expensively won, once lost, is nearly impossible to regain," Armstrong said in the testimony.

You can read an abridged version of his testimony, here.

Armstrong went on to detail a number of programs NASA has either abandoned or bungled, highlighting a few he saw promise in. The aging astronaut also encouraged the government not to abandon low-orbit space projects, similar to the International Space Station that will likely come down by 2020.

But the arguments went beyond the hope to keep exploring. During his testimony, Armstrong also talked about how NASA's declining budget directly effects millions of Americans under its employment, and in related industries. Said Armstrong, according to a transcript of the testimony,

The Aircraft Industry Association reports Aerospace provides more than 600.000 skilled middle-class jobs and the industry supports more than 2 million middle class jobs and 30,000 suppliers from all 50 states. NASA and its supporting contractors employ hundreds of thousands of highly skilled engineers and technicians in 44 states

Armstrong wasn't the only one who testified in this manner either. Fellow astronaut Eugene Cernan also expressed his concern at the hearing according to The Register, simply saying, "Today we are on a path of decay."

In the past, Cernan, Armstrong and other astronaut have spoken out against the government's and, more specifically, President Obama's plans for space exploration. In April 2010 Armstrong and others made headlines after sending a statement to the AP and NBC condemning the President's decision to abandon a program that aimed to return a man to the moon.


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