Neil Armstrong is, as anyone educated outside of the United States knows, the first man on the moon. For some bizarre reason, most Americans appear to have conflated an old OJ Simpson movie with actual fact, and believe that Neil never actually left a Hollywood Basement, but, hey, there's 50 years of crappy educational policy for you. Fortunately, people in other countries tend to remember important stuff for us these days, since we can't be bothered.
Anyway: Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, is actually a quite quiet and retiring man. He's not seeking out the limelight like some other Astronauts, and he's always maintained a level of public awareness that is far, far, far below what he's entitled to. Odds are, if I showed you a picture of Neil, you wouldn't know who he was. Odds are, if I showed you a picture of him from 20 years ago, you still wouldn't. He keeps his life quiet, and he never makes political statements because he doesn't believe he has the right to use his incredible good fortune to shape national policy.
So when he *does* speak out, it's a very big deal. Recently, Armstrong publicly referred to our space program as "Embarrassing," and while it's a couple years old, his open letter from a couple years back deserves attention:
>>As a result of the tragic loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003, it was concluded that our space policy required a new strategic vision. Extensive studies and analysis led to this new mandate: meet our existing commitments, return to our exploration roots, return to the moon, and prepare to venture further outward to the asteroids and to Mars. The programme was named "Constellation". In the ensuing years, this plan was endorsed by two presidents of different parties and approved by both Democratic and Republican Congresses.<<
>>When President Obama recently released his budget for Nasa, he proposed a slight increase in total funding, substantial research and technology development, an extension of the International Space Station operation until 2020, long range planning for a new but undefined heavy lift rocket and significant funding for the development of commercial access to low earth orbit.
Although some of these proposals have merit, the accompanying decision to cancel the Constellation programme, its Ares 1 and Ares V rockets, and the Orion spacecraft, is devastating.<<
>>>For the United States, the leading space faring nation for nearly half a century, to be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destines our nation to become one of second or even third rate stature. While the president's plan envisages humans travelling away from Earth and perhaps toward Mars at some time in the future, the lack of developed rockets and spacecraft will assure that ability will not be available for many years.
Without the skill and experience that actual spacecraft operation provides, the US is far too likely to be on a long downhill slide to mediocrity.<<<
That was in 2010.
This is not just some schmuck, folks. This is Neil Freakin' Armstrong, greatest explorer in human history by the time he was 33. I don't even think he's a Republican, but it doesn't matter: He knows whereof he speaks.