"To maintain this vital life safety margin for long-term ISS operations we are requesting the following: ... To avoid any gap in providing independent repair spacewalks as a safety contingency for the space station, Congress, NASA and the ISS partners should evaluate the option of postponing the launch of STS - 135 until more external fuel tanks and other parts can be built to support additional shuttle flights in 2012."
Final NASA shuttle mission clouded by rancor, Washington Post
"Garver and other administration officials are getting heat from some of the most famous astronauts on the planet, not to mention members of Congress and aerospace industry executives. Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, and someone never known to be a rabble-rouser, recently co-wrote with fellow Apollo astronauts Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan an op-ed in USA Today declaring that the space policy of the Obama administration is in "substantial disarray." The astronauts protested the decision to kill the Constellation program, the George W. Bush-era plan for a new lunar mission with new rockets and spacecraft."
"Last week, former astronaut John Glenn expressed his unhappiness with the end of the shuttle program. Glenn called it "ridiculous" and says he has objected to the cancellation since President George W. Bush made the announcement back in 2004. "I'm sorry to see things being cut back or diminished in any way, because I think the country needs research and innovation now more than ever before," Glenn said. "Owning and operating lower-orbit transportation is not in the best interest of the nation," Bolden said of the shuttle program."
Keith's note: The timing of this letter and editorial effort by these folks is odd to say the least. The authors wait until the last possible moment and then expect the White House, NASA, and Congress to suddenly do a 180 degree course change in policy - with all of the associated and unbudgeted costs - 6 to 7 years after that policy was announced and agreed to by all parties.