Ohio's own John Glenn, on the 50th anniversary of a spaceflight during which he became the first American to orbit Earth, spoke live Monday with astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
It was a fitting gesture on behalf of NASA. It also was somewhat symbolic.
Cutbacks at the space agency and an emphasis on unmanned spacecraft have resulted in retirement of an aging space shuttle fleet and no new launch vehicles to transport Americans into space.
For now, U.S. astronauts have to ride into space aboard Russian rockets, as paying passengers. Otherwise, space travel by American astronauts would remain a part of history. Like Glenn.
Considering the size of the national debt, and the living conditions here on Earth, a reallocation of federal spending is understandable. Reductions in federal budgets seem unavoidable.
But ceding space-based pursuits to other countries could be detrimental to our nation in the future. The value of research conducted aboard the space station cannot be overlooked.
But neither can fiscal, economic and environmental issues be ignored. The United States should have a goal of returning to manned spaceflight. But a more immediate goal should be to address issues closer to home.