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Armstrong, Cernan challenge plan to scrap moon program

It was during long flights to the Middle East for goodwill visits to American troops that former astronauts Neil Armstrong, Eugene Cernan and James Lovell hatched a plan to step out of the pages of history with a mission to change its course once more.  The carefully calculated decision in March has brought two of the three marquee space pioneers to the halls of Capitol Hill to publicly — and politically — challenge President Barack Obama's plan to scrap the nation's back-to-the-moon program.

“Some question why America should return to the moon. After all, they say, ‘We have already been there,' ” Armstrong said. “I find that mystifying. It would be as if 16th century monarchs proclaimed that we need not go to the New World, we have already been there.”

Armstrong, the first man to step on the moon, in 1969, and Cernan, the last to leave, in 1972, abandoned their long-standing aversion to political controversy to pointedly challenge key aspects of Obama's vision for NASA.
 

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