McCain Celebrates NASA Anniversary, Blasts Obama for Plan to Roll Back Funds

John McCainJohn McCainTrump's new debate challenge: Silence Senate rivals gear up for debates McCain opponent releases new ad hitting his record MORE celebrated NASA's 50th anniversary today and blasted his opponent's plan to scale back space funding in favor of education, implying Obama's plan would abandon NASA at a critical juncture, as the Space Shuttle is scheduled to retire in 2010.

"Fifty years ago today, President Eisenhower signed the bill that launched the United States on the magnificent journey to space discovery and exploration," McCain said. "In doing so, he sent a powerful message to the world that the United State would harness its creativity, inventiveness and drive to lead all others into this most distant frontier. Since that time, Presidents of both parties have remained steadfast in guaranteeing U.S. leadership in space."


"While my opponent seems content to retreating from American exploration of Space for a decade, I am not. As President, I will act to make ensure our astronauts will continue to explore space, and not just by hitching a ride with someone else," McCain said.

"I intend to make sure that the NASA constellation program has the resources it needs so that we can begin a new era of human space exploration. A country that sent a man to the moon should expect no less."

As part of his education plan, Barack ObamaBarack ObamaTrump's new debate challenge: Silence WATCH LIVE: Obama speaks at African American Museum opening Obama talks racial tension at African-American museum opening MORE proposed a 5-year delay in President Bush's Constellation Program--an ambitious 20-year, $230 billion agenda to push man deeper into space.

"We're not going to have the engineers and the scientists to continue space exploration if we don't have kids who are able to read, write and compute," Obama said when he unveiled the plan

McCain's attack today mirrored one made by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) during her primary campaign. Obama's scaled-back funding, Clinton said, would leave a ten-year gap in U.S. spacecraft after the shuttle retires, meaning U.S. astronauts would "have to hitch a ride" on Chinese and Russian spacecraft.