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Senator John Glenn's Shuttle Flight
"If the taxpayers come to believe that the space program is becoming a cosmic carnival ride, then we face the very real prospect that they may withdraw their support." – John Glenn, The Washington Post, January 30, 1986

It is ironic that Sen. Glenn has now taken a Space Shuttle flight of his own, because this is the very type of stunt he opposed – a "cosmic carnival ride" which unfortunately proves that NASA has failed to open space to the American taxpayers who are footing the bill.

Senator John Glenn
Senator John Glenn.
Los Angeles, November 24,1998 – Whether you agree or disagree with the appropriateness of Senator Glenn's Shuttle flight, it has raised the importance of space as a central topic of discussion:

"All eyes will be on the sky and imaginations in the stars as Sen. John Glenn, 77, makes a historic return to space Thursday aboard the shuttle Discovery. As part of America's modern mythology and historic achievement space exploration has received renewed attention as a public policy issue. This Policy.com Issue of the Week examines U.S. space policy, with a focus on the future of NASA, collaborative exploration programs and challenges for the future of space exploration, including the commercialization and pollution of space."

from Policy.Com's introduction to Space Policy: Present Challenges, Future Visions; their "Issue of the Week" for Monday, October 26, 1998
 
Policy.Com coverage of The Foundation's A Space Frontier Agenda; "Rick Tumlinson, president of the Space Frontier Foundation, speaks before the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics noting the 'bankruptcy of our national space program' and its focus on reliving past glories as a substitute for real achievement. The government's role as rule maker, supporter and provider of infrastructure should apply to space, Tumlinson argues. Tumlinson advocates private-sector leads in the space frontier and examines what the government's role should be in space technology, the International Space Station and Mars exploration."


Foundation Press Releases on Sen. Glenn's Shuttle Junket:

29 Oct. 1998:
Senator Glenn Shuttle Flight Could Have Blazed New Trail for Public; Settles for "Business As Usual"

21 Oct. 1998:
Senator Glenn's Shuttle Flight Signals a Failing Space Program

15 Jan. 1998:
Sen. Glenn Shuttle Flight Most Expensive Congressional Junket Ever


Some of the Press Coverage on the Foundation's View of Sen. Glenn's Shuttle Junket:

CNN Interactive, 
Skeptics put Glenn, NASA Under the Microscope, by John Christensen: "Among the critics is Rick Tumlinson, president of the Space Frontier Foundation . . . his group is not impressed that 'after 30 years, NASA is finally able to put John Glenn in space.'  Tumlinson calls the Glenn mission 'a PR gimmick' and 'a political connivance' and he says that while there may be valid reasons for studying aging in space, there are better candidates than Glenn."


The San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 November 1998, Plain Folks Lining Up to Take That Rocket Ride, by Eric Niler: "In 1990, a Japanese television network paid Russia $37 million to send a 48-year-old reporter into orbit for eight days aboard the Mir space station . . . Some space advocates want the same kind of free-market reforms to trickle down to NASA.  They are lobbying Congress to get NASA to auction off rides on the shuttle, or an entire shuttle itself, to private business interests. NASA officials have refused to consider such a proposal. Rick Tumlinson, president of the Los Angeles-based Space Frontier Foundation , wants a free-market shuttle ride. 'We have to move away from government running the shuttle fleet and instead let NASA go to Mars and Europa and beyond,' he said. Tumlinson likened the Glenn mission to a taxpayer-financed charity for a single powerful individual. Why not open it up to everyone, he proposes, and sell lottery tickets? 'Space is a place, not a program,' Tumlinson said. 'Taxpayers shouldn't have to fund it.' "


The Boston Globe, 29 October 1998, Senator Blasted '86 Civilian Flight, by Bob Hohler: "The day after the space shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986, Senator John Glenn blasted NASA's decision to send Christa McAuliffe on the fatal mission . . . Today, 12 years later, the 77-year-old Democratic senator from Ohio is poised to lift off for a shuttle ride in space. And several critics are using his post-Challenger remarks against him . . . Glenn failed to convince Rick Tumlinson, president of the Space Frontier Foundation , which promotes opening space travel to civilians. Tumlinson characterized Glenn's scheduled flight the way some of McAuliffe's prelaunch critics described her mission. He called it 'a publicity stunt.' "


Newsday (NY), 29 October 198, Politics, Not Science, Is Glenn's Mission, by Raymond J. Keating: "Thus far,  mankind's voyage into space has been conducted mainly for political reasons. Seventy-seven-year-old Sen. John Glenn's planned trip aboard the space shuttle Discovery is yet another example . . . Given the Communist threat, one can make a case for public funding of Glenn's heroic voyage aboard Friendship 7 . . . in contrast, giving a politician another ride in space for old times or as a political payoff fails the legitimacy test . . . space need not be left to bumbling bureaucrats. For years, visionaries have pointed to private-sector space ventures in fields like satellites, communications, research, package delivery, drug development, manufacturing and tourism . . . The Space Frontier Foundation is a leading proponent of private space development."


The Globe and Mail (Canada), 28 October 1998, History Comes Full Circle for Glenn, But Former Astronaut's Return To Orbit Can't Mask Questions About Space Agency's Mandate, by David Chandler: "The flight has been criticized as a blatant publicity ploy by NASA to revive the flagging interest in human space flight . . . 'Thirty-six years after sending John Glenn into orbit, NASA has finally achieved the capability to send John Glenn into orbit,' is the cynical summation given by Rick Tumlinson, president of an advocacy group called the Space Frontier Foundation that promotes widespread access to space for ordinary people. 'NASA's decision to fly him again shows that the government-run space program is just going around in circles.'


Richmond Times-Dispatch, 25 October 1998, Critics deride Glenn – Spaceflight Mission Important, ex-Astronaut Says, by A. J. Hostetler: "NASA showed only limited interest in this topic until Glenn approached the agency's head, Dan Goldin, in 1996 with the idea that would put him back into space for the first time since his first and only flight in 1962, when he became the first American to orbit Earth. Goldin's announcement in January that Glenn would be Payload Specialist No. 2 aboard the STS-95 mission was called 'an elitist stunt and the most expensive congressional junket in recent memory' by the Space Frontier Foundation, a private group that promotes opening space travel to ordinary citizens who can pay the airfare. The decision 'has nothing to do with legitimate medical studies or creating heroes, and everything to do with political payoffs and covering up a lack of vision and real progress in NASA's human spaceflight program.' "


The Boston Globe, 25 October 1998, Glenn Mission Revives the 'Heroic Age' of Man In Space, by David L. Chandler: "The return to orbit of the first American ever to reach that pinnacle, in the same month that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is celebrating its 40th birthday, can't help but set people to thinking back to that white-knuckled morning in 1962 – and about how some things have changed, and others have failed to, in the years since then. 'Thirty-six years after sending John Glenn into orbit, NASA has finally achieved the capability to send John Glenn into orbit,' is the cynical summation given by Rick Tumlinson . . . One way or another, most analysts think, the space frontier is ultimately going to make the transition from an exotic outpost for the favored few to an ongoing working, recreational, and living environment for many."


The Observer (London), 25 October 1998, Glenn Does His Orbit For Science But Keeps Results Secret, by Robin McKie: "But if Glenn's results are not made public it will only fuel criticism that his mission is no more than a public relations gimmick, said Rick Tumlinson, president of the Space Frontier Foundation, a space advocacy group. 'How can you carry on the charade that this is somehow a scientific endeavor when science itself is based on complete openness of data?' he said. And he has a point. When Glenn made his historic flight aboard the Mercury Freedom 7 capsule 36 years ago, his medical read-outs were public knowledge." (Story also carried in the India Express as
Wheezing in Orbit.)


Current Events (Teacher's Guide), 23 October 1998, Back to Space: Background: "As the article mentioned, not everyone is captivated by John Glenn's upcoming historic spaceflight. One of the most vociferous critics is Rick Tumlinson, president of the Space Frontier Foundation, an organization that seeks to see space opened up to commercial enterprise and colonization."


Fox News (from Reuters), 23 October 1998, Glenn's Geriatric Studies Might Remain Secret: ". . . said Rick Tumlinson, President of the Space Frontier Foundation, a space advocacy group. 'How can you carry on the charade that this is somehow a scientific endeavor when science itself is based on complete openness of data,' he said."


United Press International, 22 October 1998, Critics Question Glenn's Science Agenda, by Irene Brown: "Rick Tumlinson, head of the Space Frontier Foundation, says it's a stunt. Tumlinson's group is working to make spaceflight available to ordinary people. In a statement released by the foundation Tumlinson writes, '(Glenn flying) is a slap in the face to dozens of much more deserving people who have worked their whole lives for such an opportunity, people who can do a far better job of communicating the space experience to the rest of us, from teachers to reporters. Yet over the years NASA has told them all: "No, No, No!" NASA should open this frontier to everyone, rather than using our space shuttle to give a senator a gold watch.' "


Discovery Channel/Canada, 19 October 1998, The Controversy Over Glenn's Selection, by Andrew Adamson: "But for others, it smacks of the supreme retirement gift, a sort of Golden Parachute that only a well-connected and well-heeled federal politician could wangle. 'The idea of flying a multi-millionaire, high-government official is an insult to both the astronaut corps and the people who pay for our space program,' said Rick N. Tumlinson, president of the Space Frontier Foundation. Normally, he's all for pushing the envelope of space exploration. But only one day after NASA announced the decision to put Glenn back into space, Tumlinson came out against it."


Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 18 October 1998, John Glenn 's Senior Flight - Just a Dangerous Promotion Stunt?, by Hanns-Jochen Kaffsack: "Tumlinson's sarcastic criticism puts him in the ranks of those who believe it is simply a lie that NASA was sending Glenn into orbit again for research purposes."


The Cincinnati Post, 15 August 1998, Glenn Frenzy - Historic Launch Sends Fla. Spinning, by Barry M. Horstman: "The Space Frontier Foundation, an informal policy group that includes members of the space community, the media and the entertainment industry, calls the upcoming flight the most expensive congressional junket in history."


CNN/AllPolitics with Congressional Quarterly, 25 April 1998,
Critics: Glenn Flight A Boost For NASA, Not Science, Chuck McCutcheon: "Others wondered if it was a public relations ploy intended to help NASA win political support while rewarding a lawmaker who fended off Republican attacks during last year's Senate Governmental Affairs Committee hearings on alleged campaign abuses by Democrats. Glenn is ranking Democrat on the committee. The Space Frontier Foundation, a group seeking to open space to human settlement, dismissed Glenn's flight as 'an elitist stunt and the most expensive congressional junket in recent memory.' "


Dayton Daily News, 20 February 1998, The Future - Deep Space Missions on NASA's List of Goals, by Timothy R. Gaffney: "And a ticket to space still sounds like a laughable notion for anyone but a member of Congress. Rick Tumlinson, co-founder of the Space Frontier Society (sic), fumes over the progress of the U.S. space program since Glenn's flight. 'Thirty-six years later, we're flying the same guy we flew 36 years ago. It's more expensive to get into space now than it was then. You and I are no closer to going now than we were then,' he said from Los Angeles . . . Tumlinson said the Space Frontier Society believes private enterprise can build rockets and space stations at far less cost than government-driven programs. NASA, he said, should focus on projects that expand the human frontier across the solar system, much as the 1804 Lewis and Clark expedition opened the American West. 'We want NASA to quit paddling up and down in front of St. Louis,' he said."


The Columbus Dispatch, 1 February 1998, Second Glenn Mission Draws Mixed Reactions, by David Lore: "Rick Tumlinson of the Space Frontier Foundation, on the other hand, wants to put whole colonies of earthlings into space. But he's equally caustic about the Glenn flight. 'Honoring this great American hero is one thing, but NASA's claims that they are flying him to do "research" is simply a lie,' he said."


Agence France-Presse, 17 January 1998, John Glenn to return to space at age 77, by Philippe Alfroy: "But a California citizens group called the Space Frontier Foundation called the mission 'an elitist stunt and the most expensive congressional junket in recent memory . . . This shows that NASA is still more interested in reliving its past than in opening space to the American people', said Space Frontier Foundation President Rick Tumlinson."


Florida Today, 17 January 1998, Glenn Eager for Return Ride: "Others say it is nothing more than a publicity stunt by a space agency that wants to capitalize on Glenn 's name so it can keep public support as it embarks this summer on its most ambitious task ever – building a $40 billion international space station. 'It's a stunt,' said David Anderman, policy director for the Space Frontier Foundation, an organization that advocates opening space to people other than government employees. 'Apart from the minor medical knowledge that would be gained from sending somebody up that is 77 years old, it doesn't do anything substantive.' "
The Space Frontier Foundation is an organization of people dedicated to opening the Space Frontier to human settlement as rapidly as possible. Our goals include protecting the Earth's fragile biosphere and creating a freer and more prosperous life for each generation by using the unlimited energy and material resources of space. Our purpose is to unleash the power of free enterprise and lead a united humanity permanently into the Solar System.

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