July 21, 2011: Congressman Jon Runyan: “We should pay tribute to the fine NASA staff who so successfully faked the Moon landing.”
As the shuttle Atlantis ended its final voyage and an era in space came to a close, Congressman Jon Runyan (NJ-3), was somewhat tearful and poignant.
“I clearly remember as a child watching the films of ‘astronaut Neil Armstrong’ walking on the Moon,” said Rep. Runyan. “At this time, we should pay tribute to the fine NASA staff —the men and women — who so successfully faked that Moon landing in 1969, as well as the actor who played Armstrong in that film.”
The last space shuttle flight rolled to a stop just before 6 a.m. on Thursday, closing an era of the nation’s space program. “Mission complete, Houston,” said Capt. Christopher J. Ferguson of the Navy, commander of the shuttle Atlantis for the last flight.
NASA is counting on two commercial companies, the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation of Hawthorne, Calif., and the Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va., to begin cargo flights next year. “It is about time space travel was privatized,” added Runyan.
Runyan, as a member of the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, had been highly critical of NASA. “Only if the government gets out of the way, and puts the space program in to the hands private enterprise can we achieve success.”
Runyan made note that while NASA was able to fake a Moon landing, that “with privatization, the folks on Star Trek, have been able to achieve going to ‘infinity and beyond’, with ‘warp speed’. That’s what you get when you unleash American ingenuity, and get government out of the way.”
The New Jersey Congressman also agreed that funding should be sought to preserve the film studio at the Kennedy Space Center where the Moon landing was filmed, “in case some day the government needs to fake a landing on Mars or Venus, or one of our other Moons.”