The latest in ludicrous rhetoric over the future of human space flight comes from Texas Republican congressman Ted Poe, who suggests that if the Obama administration's proposed FY 2011 NASA budget is approved, U.S. astronauts might have to fly to space on an Iranian rocket!
From Space Politics:
"If we do away with the Constellation project, American astronauts are going to have to hitch a ride into space, and that means we going to have to ride with the Russians or the Chinese, or maybe the Iranians," said Ted Poe (R), referring at the end to a recent sounding rocket launch by Iran carrying several animals briefly into space.
As I wrote on March 7, China has no lunar program. They're studying it. They currently don't have the ability to reach the International Space Station. And it was the Republican Bush Administration in 2007 that agreed to put astronauts on Russian craft.
Poe was one of a handful of Republican members of Congress to address the "Code Red" Tea Party rally in Washington, D.C. on March 20.
His Iranian claims were repeated on the House floor the same day as the Code Red rally:
By foolishly canceling the Constellation Program and when the last NASA shuttle flight occurs, we will have no means to transport our astronauts into space. We will have to hitch a ride with the Russians if we want that transportation. And if one of our security satellites needs repair, who's to say the Russians will even let us buy a coach ticket on their space aircraft.
Now even the Iranians have entered the space race. Last month they sent a rat, two turtles, and a worm into space.
Keeping our edge in spaceflight is a national security issue. We can not give that away to anybody. After all, when Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon, the first word was "Houston," not "Moscow" or "Beijing."
Those who want Constellation to continue would be better served by speakers who don't blatantly pander to easily frightened people by claiming astronauts will have to ride on non-existent Iranian spacecraft.