Former NASA astronaut Marsha Ivins, who has been on five space missions and spent 55 days in space, cannot come to terms with the fact that the US government has no longer has plans for human missions to space.
"It kills me. I have devoted my life to this," said Ivins, 61, who wanted to be an astronaut when she was 10 years old, on Monday while speaking at the Nehru Planetarium, Worli.
As China prepares for its first man mission to space next year and India in 2015, Ivins hopes the next US government will restart their man missions. " ‘It sucks’ is my official response. Decisions like these are not technical, but political,” said Ivins. “(President) Nixon cancelled the moon missions because it was planned by (president) Kennedy. And (president) Obama stopped human space missions because they were started by the Bush administration. I hope the next government set things right.”
Visiting India for the first time, Ivins addressed students and adults at the Nehru Planetarium, Worli, on aspects of human space missions from take-off point to living in a shuttle and a view of the earth without boundaries. Having visited about 20 countries, Ivins will tour six Indian cities to spread awareness about space and various missions. After joining NASA in 1974 as an engineer, Ivins was selected as a mission specialist in 1984. She has logged in more than 1,300 hours in space on five different shuttle missions over the years.
With Virgin Galactic launching sub-orbital flights this year of which 500 flights have been sold already, Ivins was skeptical about space tourism. “These flights are expensive and may not follow the safety standards of government missions,” she said.
Refraining from commenting on India’s space mission, Ivins spoke about how countries must collaborate on space missions. “At present, each country is exploring space separately.”