COLUMBUS — Former U.S. Sen. and astronaut John Glenn isn't mincing words about federal plans to end NASA's space shuttle program and the international space station.
"I could give you about a two hour dissertation on my feelings on that," the first American to orbit the earth told reporters in Columbus. "We have spent about $100 billion on the [international space station] and setting up [the] most unique laboratory ever put together. And then to just end the shuttle and end the space station I think is just crazy."
Glenn, a distinguished Marine pilot who became the oldest person to participate in a space flight in 1998 as part of a space shuttle mission, made the comments following a campaign appearance on behalf of Gov. Ted Strickland in Columbus.
He and Strickland's running mate, Yvette McGee Brown, later joined the governor for campaign bus stops in Zanesville, St. Clairsville and Steubenville.
Before breaking earlier this week, Congress signed off on funding for an additional space shuttle launch next year and support for the international space station through 2020.
Glenn said he agreed with the continuation of the space station but was concerned that funding was not provided for more shuttle flights.
He took those concerns recently to President Barack Obama.
"Our people, to get to our own space station, now have to go over and contract with the Russians ... at $55.8 million per astronaut to be put up there," he said. "And we change the crew of six twice a year. You can figure that out yourself. It comes out to about $700 million that I'd rather see applied to keeping our own shuttles going until we can replace them with a new model to take our people into space."
He added, "For the next few years, we're not going to have any way of getting our own people into space."
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.