"In these times of fiscal restraint, NASA has felt the pinch. The shuttles have been retired without replacements. The Orion capsules slated to become America’s next space vehicles may never be built. Last month, on a trip to Florida, I was struck by how sad the locals are about the dismal state of affairs. “I remember the Apollo launches,” a cab driver told me as we passed NASA’s Cape Canaveral facility. “I saw almost every shuttle launch. Now they’re giving tours of the Vehicle Assembly Building instead of building rockets in it!” Indeed.
The problems are similar here. The CSA is without a head. Senior officials complain it’s ignored — at best — by the federal government. And the public doesn’t notice. We’ve had eight other astronauts, but no real space heroes. Before Hadfield, the Canadian space program was best known for a robotic arm. Hadfield could easily tweet his way into being the most recognized Canadian astronaut ever. If he isn’t already. No wonder the agency is eager to capitalize on his profile.
The only way space will be a priority again is if governments realize that the voters care. NASA can’t afford to pick its astronauts solely on the basis of their physical fitness and intellectual prowess anymore. Social media savvy and a healthy dose of folksy charm is going to be just as important. The model for that new man — the right stuff, so to speak?
Our very own Chris Hadfield."
How International Space Station astronaut Chris Hadfield may save NASA | Full Comment | National Post