Howard, who directed "Apollo 13," told Parade magazine he had been in awe of space launches since the heroic days and regretted the idea that some other nation would provide the advances that had been coming from the United States.
"I hate to give it up on a level of romance and human exploration, because somebody is going to do it," Howard said. "On a practical level, I sort of hate to forfeit that pole position in technological breakthroughs and exploration."
NASA is in the midst of its final space shuttle flight and has no plans for a follow-up program involving putting astronauts into space.
"All that is of course weighed against the needs of the nation at this moment, but I fear it's shortsighted," Howard said.