The first woman to command a space shuttle mission, retired U.S. Air Force colonel and former NASA astronaut Eileen Collins, is scheduled to speak this week at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Collins, who became NASA’s first female shuttle pilot in 1995, and the first woman to command a shuttle mission in 1997, is also known for her public criticism of the Obama administration’s cancellation of NASA’s Constellation return-to-the-moon program.
Collins testified in February at a House Science Committee hearing that she and Nasa colleagues were “shocked” by the winding down of Constellation in 2010. “I believe program cancellation decisions that are made by bureaucracies behind closed doors, without input by the people, are divisive, damage, cowardly and many times more expensive in the long run,” she said. The decision to cancel Constellation came after a commission, led by former Lockheed Martin chairman and CEO Norman Augustine, determined that the project was unsustainable. NASA would eventually send its Orion crew exploration vehicle to an asteroid, instead of to the moon as had been planned.
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