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Thursday
Jul212011

Rick Perry Accuses Obama of Leaving Astronauts to 'Hitchhike into Space'

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As America bids farewell to the space shuttle era on Thursday, likely presidential candidate Rick Perry appears none too pleased with the Obama administration, accusing the president of “leaving American astronauts with no alternative but to hitchhike into space.”

In a sharply worded statement issued by the governor of Texas -- the state is home to the Johnson Space Center -- Perry charges that the Obama administration “continues to lead federal agencies and programs astray, this time forcing NASA away from its original purpose of space exploration, and ignoring its groundbreaking past and enormous future potential.”

Thursday marked the final flight of the space shuttle as the Shuttle Atlantis landed before dawn at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Shuttles flew 135 flights over the last three decades. Americans will still live on the International Space Station, but they will have to use Russian craft and private companies for transportation to and from space.

The International Space Station is expected to remain in use until 2020.

Near the end of the statement from Perry’s office is a note that the Johnson Space Center employs 3,000 people and draws in the business of about 50 outside companies and 12,000 contract positions. “An estimated 4,000 contract positions will be lost due to the end of the shuttle program," according to the statement.

Perry, who appears to be laying the groundwork to enter the 2012 presidential race, did not mention President George W. Bush's role in the end of the space shuttle era. In 2004 at a speech at NASA headquarters, Bush laid out what the White House called his "New Vision For Space Exploration," which called for the retirement of the space shuttle.

Back then, Bush called for the space shuttle to be taken out of service in 2010.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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