Shuttles’ retirement marks the next era of exploration

As the Space Shuttle Discovery and the other orbiter vehicles of NASA’s storied Shuttle fleet are transferred to museums around the country, it should be understood that NASA has entered a new era of exploration — one that holds great promise for our nation. 

We’re implementing the bipartisan space exploration plan that President Obama and Congress approved and making great progress. We’re ending the outsourcing of work on America’s space program and bringing these jobs back to the United States with our commercial space program. We’re developing a heavy-lift rocket to take us farther into space than ever before, and a deep space crew capsule to transport our astronauts, and we’re keeping on track the most sophisticated science telescope ever constructed to help us reveal the unknown. 

We look forward to continuing to work with Congress to ensure we have a robust space exploration program, full utilization of the International Space Station and launches on American spacecraft from U.S. soil. We’re planning missions to destinations like an asteroid and ultimately to Mars. And we’re hiring astronauts today for the deep space missions of tomorrow. Early this year, NASA opened the recruiting process for a new class of astronauts, receiving a record number of almost 6,300 applications. And while we are preparing for future exploration, we have U.S. astronauts living and working 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on the International Space Station. 

We have a football field’s worth of solar arrays powering life support and hundreds of experiments; more than 400 scientific studies were conducted on the station last year in an array of disciplines. Our Shuttle program was an historic achievement, but an even brighter future is on the horizon. Make no mistake about it — the future is happening right now, and it is being built right here in America.

From David S. Weaver, NASA associate administrator for communications, Washington, D.C.

Obama, Romney should keep things positive

Over the next six months, voters will be asked to “look forward” with Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaFormer GOP lawmaker says Obama got elected because he was black To woo black voters in Georgia, Dems need to change their course of action 2018 midterms: The blue wave or a red dawn? MORE or “believe in America” with Mitt Romney. Thankfully, both slogans are positive affirmations of things to come. 

During the course of the campaign, I hope the challenger and the incumbent will remain as positive as their slogans are today. Early indications are that this year’s presidential election will be won by a nose. If either Obama or Romney goes negative, it will be a very long, tough slog for the candidates and the nation. 

Decades after the infamous 1964 Lyndon Johnson “Daisy” commercial and the 1988 George Bush “Willie Horton” ad, our political landscape remains scorched. After those campaigns ended, the producers of both spots said they wished they hadn’t sunk to such lows. 

Let’s hope both Obama and Romney remind themselves to appeal to voters’ better instincts between now and November. That would be good for them as candidates and a blessing for the country as a whole.

From Denny Freidenrich, Laguna Beach, Calif.

Republicans living in the past on energy policy

It’s not surprising that the Republicans would criticize President Obama for having a real vision for America’s energy and environmental future. The congressional Republicans and the pandering conservative presidential candidates’ only vision has been to keep America rooted in the 1950s, where fossil fuels were all we knew and the environment was of no concern. It’s 2012, and the American people and the rest of the world already know that we need to aggressively move away from fossil fuels and to seriously combat global warming. Everybody, it seems, except for our Republican Party.

I support Obama and his desire to move American forward to a clean-energy future and to help make America a leader to combat global warming. The choice is clear: Obama for the future, Mitt Romney for the past. 

From Rick Cover, Gaithersburg, Md.