Washington (CNN) – The space shuttle Atlantis cooled off after its re-entry into Earth's atmosphere but Texas Governor Rick Perry is white-hot about the Obama administration's approach to space exploration.
In a press release following the shuttle's Thursday morning return to the Kennedy Space Center Perry launched on the end of the shuttle program.
"With the final landing of the shuttle Atlantis and no indication of plans for future missions, this administration has set a significantly different milestone by shutting down our nation's legacy of leadership in human spaceflight and exploration, leaving American astronauts with no alternative but to hitchhike into space," Perry said in a written statement.
Perry's home state is a big player in the space industry. Johnson Space Center is located just outside Houston and is the home to NASA's astronauts. The area employs thousands of workers in the aerospace industry.
With no current vehicle to get astronauts into space, the Lone Star Republican continued his criticism. "The Obama Administration continues to lead federal agencies and programs astray, this time forcing NASA away from its original purpose of space exploration, and ignoring its groundbreaking past and enormous future potential. It is time to restore NASA to its core purpose of manned space exploration, and to define our vision for 21st Century space exploration, not in terms of what we cannot do, but instead in terms of what we will do." Perry said.
President Obama has addressed his commitment to the space program before.
"I am 100 percent committed to the mission of NASA and its future," Obama told workers at the Kennedy Space Center in April, 2010, the very place where the program came to an end Thursday. "By the mid-2030s I believe we can send people to orbit Mars and bring them safely back to Earth," Obama said. Landing on Mars will follow, and "I expect to be around to see it," he said.