EDITORIAL: Building the land of tomorrow

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 10, 2023

When it comes to the final frontier, there is no shortage of Ohioans who have been among the pioneers of space travel.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio

Most famously, there is Neil Armstrong, the western Ohio native who was the first person to walk on the moon as part of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission.

It’s a party affair. Democratic U.S. Senate nominee John Glenn and his wife, Annie, were hosts July 21, 1974 at their home in Columbus to the Ohio Democratic County Chairmen and their spouses, including the chairman of the Lawrence County Democratic Executive Committee David McCown. Pictured here from left to right are Glenn, McCown, and Mrs. McCown. (Ironton Tribune | File Photo)

John Glenn, of Cambridge, one of the Mercury Seven, the first of NASA’s astronauts, became the first American to orbit the Earth and later served as the state’s U.S. senator. Glenn made headlines again in 1998, when he returned to orbit as part of a space shuttle mission.

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Jim Lovell, Cleveland, is also a household name. As commander of the Apollo 13 mission, he led the astronauts to a safe return to Earth following a critical failure of equipment. His story was later immortalized in Ron Howard’s 1995 film in which Lovell was portrayed by Tom Hanks.

Space travel is fraught with dangers and, sadly, some who have taken part in missions have not returned home, as was the case with Judith Resnik, of Akron. The fourth woman in space, Resnik took part a Discovery mission, but sadly, lost her life at age 36 in the 1986 Challenger explosion.

Altogether, 25 Ohioans have been among NASA’s astronauts, logging more than 22,000 hours in space on more than 80 flights, so it is safe to say the state has been integral to NASA through seven decades.

Which is why it is fitting that, this week, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, along with many of the state’s U.S. representatives from both parties, called on President Joe Biden to select Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton as the headquarters for the U.S. Space Command and to locate additional Space Force units in Ohio, as part of a partnership NASA’s Neil Armstrong Test Facility in Sandusky.

But the immense history of the state is not the only reason the president should consider such a move. Between existing NASA facilities, military bases, industry partnerships and prestigious universities, Ohio is uniquely suited to host the Space Command, if the U.S. Department of Defense decides to relocate it.

Brown has often spoken of the need to “bury the term ‘Rust Belt’” and concentrating NASA’s facilities in the state would not only boost Ohio, but also many of the surrounding states of the region, which have been hit hard by manufacturing losses.

We have seen that the state can be a leader in technology, evident by Intel’s decision to locate its microchip manufacturing plant in the state, a major coup for the state’s economy, which will ripple through its 88 counties.

Moving Space Command to Ohio makes sense and will bring development. opportunity and the jobs of tomorrow to a region of the country that deserves a boost.

We commend Brown and the representatives for making this call and we urge the state’s other U.S. senator, Republican JD Vance, as well as our region’s representative, Republican Brad Wenstrup, to consider joining this effort.

The opportunity exists to bring Ohio to the forefront of the future, and let us hope that leaders take that path.