Claiming that challenges to space flight are political and not technical, the former National Aeronautical Space Administration (NASA) astronaut Marsha S. Ivins pointed out here on Thursday that every year the United States spent “more money on pizza than on the entire space programme.”

“Decisions in space programmes are political. The challenges of space flight are not technical; they are political…We don't spend a lot of money in the United States on the space programme,” Ms. Ivins told journalists on the sidelines of a programme for schoolchildren organised by the American Centre in the city. “We spend more money in the United States on pizza than we do on the entire space programme,” she remarked adding that the U.S. spent 0.6 per cent of its fiscal budget on the space programme.

Asked if there was a decline in interest on outer space, the astronaut, who has clocked more than 1,318 hours in space, admitted that interest in the space programme had flatlined in the U.S. because “NASA doesn't have a big goal.”

“I think if we had a plan that said in the next 15 years we would put crews on Mars, and we developed the capability, then people will get excited,” she said adding that it would get children interested in travelling to outer space.

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