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Local astronomer reflects on Space Shuttle program


By Scott Harvey


Commerce – The end of NASA's Space Shuttle program is a tough pill to swallow for several people who grew up during the height of the program.

Dr. Kent Montgomery is the planetarium director at Texas A&M University-Commerce. While he agrees with the decision to cancel the program due to factors like an aging fleet and old technology, he would like to see a new plan for space travel put into motion.

"To me, I would much rather see them continue with a goal and an orientation and keep the people advised of what you're doing. What are we going to do, where's that goal that we're shooting for in the long run?" asked Dr. Montgomery. "It's hard to go somewhere when you don't have a clear destination."

He feels a new goal would help excite a younger audience, who perhaps has taken for granted the Shuttle program's significance.

"The difference was, for instance when we went to the Moon, the Apollo program, we had the whole country behind us; everybody was working together for the same goal. When they did land on the Moon, they would say, Oh we did it.' It wasn't that somebody else did it; we as a people did it. So it's a whole different attitude these days."

Montgomery says the installation of the Hubble Space Telescope was the most significant project under the Shuttle program, and also is proud of the major steps taken as to research into a humans' ability to handle space travel.

"It's paved the way so if we ever want to go to Mars or somewhere where you have to be up there for months or years, they can deal with it so it's not so debilitating to the human body."

Hear the full interview with Dr. Kent Montgomery by clicking play above. KETR will rebroadcast a portion of NPR's special coverage of the last Space Shuttle launch on Saturday in lieu of The Lead at 9 a.m.