DETROIT (WWJ) – NASA is closing out its 30-year space shuttle program with a launch scheduled for Friday, weather permitting.

Former Astronaut Jerry Linenger is an Eastpointe native who now lives in northern Michigan, and he is truly alarmed by the development.

“People don’t realize that… the headline should be shuttle launches, last successful launch of the space shuttle, and we have no ability to put a human being into space for the first time since 1961,” he said. “We’re essentially abandoning our manned space program and how does that sound to you?”

Linenger spent 132 days in space in 1997. He said he is disappointed with the leadership of the country for letting the space program drift.

“We have no ability to get an American into space. And we’re going to have to go to the Russian government, ask for a ride to the international space station, and if we don’t get our act together we will be behind China, which does have the capability of putting a man in space and India is hot on their heels.”

Linenger said the country’s leadership should be able to find the money to keep NASA flying. President Barack Obama made the decision to cancel the shuttle program, which focuses on returning humans to the moon, in favor of programs exploring such topics as Mars and asteroids.

“The leadership of the United States decided that we’re going to be a second-rate nation and we’re going to give up all the sacrifice, all the money we spent to get where we are, a world-class space program, leaders really, that other countries look up to, and we’re about to just give that away. And I don’t think anyone has really understood that.” Linenger said. “It is one giant leap backward.”

Space shuttle Atlantis is set for liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday, July 8 for its 33rd and final mission of the NASA Shuttle Program.

Atlantis, carrying a crew of four, will have a 12-day mission to the International Space Station. The launch is currently scheduled for 11:26 am, weather permitting.

Watch the shuttle launch online at


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