Former astronaut Brown emphasizes importance of NASA“It’s one of those things that you would never expect you’d be doing,” said Hudson resident and former astronaut Curt Brown. Brown, a former Air Force pilot, worked with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, from 1987 to 1999.
By: By Jace Frederick, Hudson Star-Observer
“It’s one of those things that you would never expect you’d be doing,” said Hudson resident and former astronaut Curt Brown.
Brown, a former Air Force pilot, worked with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, from 1987 to 1999. He took six different missions into space, the first three as a pilot, the final three as mission commander, he said.
“After all that training, to sit in the rocket, lift off, and go into orbit, it happens very quickly,” he said. “Once you’re in orbit and looking down at earth, it’s pretty amazing.”
Brown commanded the STS-95 discovery shuttle in 1998. The mission included space pioneer and former U.S. Senator John Glenn on the crew.
Brown said it was an honor to lead the senator’s journey back into orbit.
“He did a really good job,” he said. “He and his wife are two of the nicest people in the world.”
Future aviators in America will not have the same opportunities to travel into space.
NASA’s Space Shuttle Program came to an end in July 2011 with the return of the shuttle Atlantis, according to NASA’s website. The end of the program is attributed to severe budget cuts. NASA is currently doing one tenth of what it used to do, said Brown.
He described the impact of the program’s end.
“We get medical advances out of NASA and we’ve discovered a lot of technologies from NASA,” said Brown. “Cell phones, computers, and all that technology had to be militarized and have power capabilities. A lot of that stuff came out of the space program.”
Those progressions came at a cost. NASA’s budget in 2011 was $18.4 billion, a half percent of the federal budget, according to Wikipedia. Brown believes those advances were worth the costs for the country.
“Research is very important to the future of the nation. We need to have that cutting edge. We need to be ahead of the other countries.”
Brown, who visits classrooms regularly to speak with the youth about his experiences, says children will suffer from the program’s losses.
“It’s a great motivator and it’s important for our youngsters to have something to look at in the forms of science, engineering and math,” he said.
Brown hopes the program will regain form in coming years. He said it may take changes in government to rejuvenate support.
“It’s a crying shame that we can’t support our own space program,” he said. ”Other people in the country understand the importance of the space program.”
“I think we could get back in business in a couple of years.”