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Fri, Dec 19, 2008

AIA's Blakey Says 'Next Boots On Moon' May Be Chinese

Says "Short-Term" Economic Problems Shouldn't Cloud Priorities

The Aerospace Industries Association, which lobbies for aerospace contractors, is invoking a classic tactic to pressure the incoming Obama administration to maintain spending in its sector. Former FAA Administrator and current AIA President Marion Blakey told the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit in Washington we might soon have company on the surface of the Moon.

Noting recent lunar missions by China and India in recent months, Blakey commented, "It has been a long time since we've had anyone breathing down our necks. Now we do. The idea that the next boots on the moon are probably going to be Chinese is something that the public has not realized."

The last man to walk on the moon was US Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan in 1972. Most of the contractors who built the hardware for the Apollo missions are still in business, and members of AIA.

Arguing for a long-term perspective, Blakey dismissed the current economic recession as an excuse for curtailing or delaying spending in aerospace. "I do not believe the American people will trade off the importance of exploring what clearly is the next frontier in the middle of short-term economic duress," she said.

The association adds aerospace supports more than two million well-paid jobs in all 50 United States.

FMI: www.aia-aerospace.org, www.nasa.gov

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