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franklin county times

A new vision for space exploration

By Staff
Editor's note: Astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore lived in Meridian in the late 1980s while he underwent jet training at the Naval air station. Selected by NASA in July 2000 as a pilot, Wilmore completed two years of astronaut training and evaluation. His current assignment is Landing and Rollout Support for Shuttle Systems.
By Barry Wilmore / guest columnist
September 5, 2004
As a Naval aviator, I underwent jet training at NAS Meridian in the late 1980s. I loved the people and the beauty of God's creation in and around the vicinity of eastern Mississippi.
I attended church with, worked with and enjoyed the company of many during the time I lived in Meridian, and continue to maintain contact with many friends who still live in and around the area.
As an astronaut, I appreciate the tremendous opportunity the American public has given me to help pioneer the space frontier on their behalf. Because of this privilege, I feel a special responsibility to communicate with the public about the importance and excitement of NASA's Vision for Space Exploration. Under the plan, a combination of human pioneers and robot explorers will conduct a sustained and affordable program of exploration throughout the solar system.
The fundamental goal of America's new space exploration vision is to advance our country's scientific, security and economic interests through a robust space exploration program. In support of these goals, our entire team is working to:
Complete the construction of the International Space Station by 2010;
Return human explorers to the moon as soon as 2015 in preparation for the exploration of Mars and beyond; and
Promote international and commercial cooperation.
In pursuing the space exploration vision, NASA scientists, engineers and astronauts will help develop revolutionary technologies and capabilities for the future, while maintaining good stewardship of taxpayer dollars just like we've done for the past 40 years.
Historically, our nation's investment in space has led to significant advances in weather forecasting, communications, computing, medicine, search and rescue technology, robotics and electronics.
We are confident that NASA's work on these new exploration objectives will help fuel American creativity, innovation, technology development and leadership. We also trust the fascination generated by our plans to explore the solar system will inspire our young people to study math and science so that our next generation of explorers will be well prepared to carry the torch ever outward.
The space exploration vision builds on NASA's current activities, but gives our work focus and clear objectives to meet on behalf of the American people. Through our stepping stone approach, we will learn from our exploration experiences and incorporate new technologies as we move along.
Thirty-five years ago, when men first landed on the moon, Neil Armstrong reported back to Mission Control, "The Eagle has landed." As a member of a new generation of astronauts, I'm proud to say that the Eagle is once again taking flight.

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