WASHINGTON, DC -- Two of America's seven original Mercury astronauts reunited at the Air and Space Museum Thursday evening, nearly 50 years after they first went into space.
John Glenn and Scott Carpenter are the only surviving members of the country's original astronaut corps. They aren't happy with the direction of the country's space program in 2011.
"I think the amazing part is how far we've come in that time period, and how important the whole program was.
"I'm sorry to see things cut back or diminished in any way because I think the country needs research and innovation now more than ever before if we're going to be competitive with other countries, and that's the reason I hate to see the shuttle program end in particular now," he said.
The men said the space program has helped advance science and the country's quality of life. List the breakthroughs?
"That's an impossible question because half of all the virtues that will come from all we did haven't happened yet. They're still being discovered from what we have accomplished. Those advances are yet to be made," said Carpenter.
The space shuttle program ends next month with a final flight.
"I'm sorry to see the shuttles end because that means we're now dependent on the Russians. We have no way of getting into space after this next launch and I don't think that's a good position for us to be in," Glenn said.
Carpenter was asked what he would tell President Obama.
"I would just ask him to get NASA back in the business that it knows best," he replied.
Glenn's first flight around the world in outer space was in February 1962. He returned to space in 1998 on a shuttle mission. A month from his 90th birthday, would he go again?
"Oh, yuh, sure. Tomorrow morning would be fine," he said.