The blank check from government that financed adventures in the Cold War-era is no longer available, with today’s missions depending more on the private sector and international cooperation — often because of budget considerations.
Armstrong, who died Saturday, criticized President Barack Obama in 2010 for cost-cutting plans that, in part, retired the US space shuttles — effectively ending the American role in sending humans out of Earth’s orbit.
Now, US astronauts — whose predecessors worked feverishly to beat Russia’s efforts to the moon — ride as passengers on Russian spacecraft, and hopes for NASA’s own future manned flights to the International Space Station are pinned on private companies, which are trying to build cheaper shuttle alternatives.
Armstrong feared becoming reliant on other nations for spaceflight and that private companies would take too long to develop new space-worthy vehicles.
“I support the encouragement of the newcomers toward their goal of lower cost access to space,” Armstrong said. “But having cut my teeth in rockets more than 50 years ago, I am not confident.”