One of the more anticipated speeches that took place on the third night of the Republican National Convention was delivered by Colonel Eileen Collins, the first woman to command a Space shuttle mission. He remarks followed a short video that celebrated the American spirit of exploration and innovation on the occasion of the 47th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Collins had been direct in her criticism of President Barack Obama’s decision to end the Constellation space exploration program.

The fact that she was going to address the Republican National Convention occasioned a degree of snark on social media, especially from Lori Garver, the former Deputy Administrator of NASA, one of the architects of the cancellation of Constellation, and a Democratic partisan. However, Collins’ critique was somewhat muted and nonpartisan before the Republican delegates. She noted that since the end of the space shuttle program the United States has no way of sending astronauts into space. Some on social media tartly pointed out that George W.

Bush made the decision to end the shuttle program, though it could be argued that the squabbling between President Obama and Congress, brought on by the abrupt and sudden nature of the end of Constellation, has delayed the commercially run, publically funded spacecraft.

Collins endorsed a revitalization of the civil space program without providing specifics on how that might be done. She suggested that leadership was key to restoring America’s standing in space, but specifically declined to endorse Donald Trump as that leader, even though such an endorsement was spelled out in her prepared remarks.

It can be argued that Collins’ defense of the space program was thin gruel, lacking even the specifics that exist in the Republican platform, which toured public/private partnerships and more “scientific” space missions. But it can also be argued that Collins was more substantive than the Democrats, which did not mention space at all in their platform and have not, to anyone’s knowledge, have a space oriented speaker at their convention.

The Trump people reviewed Collins’ remarks in advance, so it can also be said that they at least approve of the concept of space leadership, despite some off putting remarks the candidate has made about filling potholes being more important than sending people to Mars.

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