“Apollo 13” Actor Tom Hanks Speaks Out on Behalf of Space Exploration

Beginning in the early 1990s the NASA budget began to decline, a trend that continues to the present, and numerous individuals committed to the continuation of an aggressive space exploration program began to speak out. One of the most vocal was actor Tom Hanks, winner of two Academy Awards and star of Apollo 13. A longtime space advocate, Hanks appeared before Congress on July 25, 1995, to testify on behalf of NASA’s continued activities. The prepared letter that he gave to Congress at the time has been reprinted below. With the President set to unveil his budget proposal for fiscal year 2013 next week, and the widespread anticipation that NASA’s programs will suffer severe cuts in it, it seems appropriate to highlight this eloquent statement of Tom Hanks on behalf of NASA and its mission of pushing back the frontiers of understanding about space.


July 25, 1995

Dear Members of Congress,

I believed in the importance of U.S. efforts in space long before I began work on the film Apollo 13.

The efforts of the men and women who have dedicated so much of their lives to the space program have produced tangible results that have positively impacted our lives, and the lives of all human kind. New technologies, scientific discoveries, environmental understandings, along with breakthroughs in consumer goods which have fueled the worldwide economic motor, have all been direct products of the American desire and wherewithal to go into space.

Along with these benefits, this desire has supplied something unique to our collective psyche—inspiration. It is the best part of us all—the understanding that given time and money, we can figure out just about anything. The American work ethic is most perfectly displayed in the plans and accomplishments of NASA and its contributing industries. It is, in fact, inspiring to see that we can, and do, put men and women into the lifeless vacuum and glorious free fall of outer space.

Feats such as going to the moon, orbiting the earth for weeks at a time, or installing and repairing the instruments that expand our knowledge, are all celebrations of everything we Americans are supposed to be. When we decide to do so, we solve problems. We figure things out. We go into space.

I know such concepts as a permanently manned orbiting science station and other NASA programs are not as glamorous as going to the moon. And Lord knows that our problems here on our world need our attention, resolve and service.

But to choose not to go into space, to decide that our days of discovery and conquest there are over, to cease or curtail funding for the one American program that exists solely to advance the horizon for all mankind would be, I think, equal to limiting the grand power of pure inspiration, hampering our manifest destiny, and taking away the best part of all of us.

I hope you support full funding for our NASA programs to continue the inspiring concept of our human role in space.



Tom Hanks

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1 Response to “Apollo 13” Actor Tom Hanks Speaks Out on Behalf of Space Exploration

  1. Pingback: Celebrity Scientist #2: Tom Hanks - Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

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