FERGUS FALLS, Minn., May 31 (UPI) -- A former U.S. astronaut says NASA has lost focus and leadership and should be dismantled and replaced with a deep space exploration agency.
Jack Schmitt , who in 1972 became the last American to walk on the moon, said the existing component parts of NASA should be spread to other agencies, the Fergus Falls (Minn.) Journal reported last week.
"We need a new agency to be in charge of enabling America and its partners with exploration of deep space," he said, "inherently stimulating education, technology and national focus."
Schmitt, who grew up in southern Minnesota and served one term as a U.S. senator from New Mexico, said the easiest solution would entail moving NASA space science activities, including space-based astronomical observatories, into the National Science Foundation.
The only exception, he suggested, would be programs related to U.S. obligations to its partners in the International Space Station.
"Creation of a new National Space Exploration Administration would be charged solely with the human exploration of deep space and the re-establishment and maintenance of American dominance as a space-faring nation," he said.