Nebraska's first astronaut discusses future of the space program, his missions

Omaha, NE – Nebraska's first astronaut says international participation in space flight is essential.

Clay Anderson spoke earlier this week at the Omaha Rotary Club. Anderson is an Ashland native. He spent five months on board the International Space Station in 2007 as flight engineer and science officer. Anderson also was part of the Space Shuttle Discovery's mission earlier this year. During the 15 day mission to the International Space Station, Anderson completed three spacewalks.

Anderson believes the U.S. can't continue space flight without involvement from other nations. "We as Americans cannot go to Mars or to the moon again on our own tax dollars. I just don't think we can do it, there's just too many competing priorities in our government and unless that ever gets straightened out, we're going to need the help of other countries to be able to pull this off," Anderson says.

Anderson says he's disappointed and worried about the future of space flight after the decision to end the shuttle program. He says right now, American space travel must be done on Russian rockets, at a cost of $51 million per astronaut.

As for future missions to space, Anderson says he's unsure if he'll participate.