As the space shuttle Atlantis orbits the earth on its final flight, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is attempting to chart a new course for a federal agency that has often given the impression of being “lost in space.”

As the last flight of NASA’s space shuttle began with a photogenic launch this morning, the future of manned space flight is far from certain. From the first shuttle mission — designated STS-1 — in April 1981, when astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen flew the Columbia, through today’s launch of Atlantis for STS-135, the shuttle program has been the focus of much of the praise and criticism in public analysis of America’s space program. Now, as Atlantis begins its twelve-day mission, the debate about the future of human space flight centers on the role of public and private involvement in such endeavors.

With the Western nations continuing their downward economic spiral, the advocates of the United Nations’ redistributionist schemes also continue to exploit the environmental agenda in their effort to fundamentally alter the global economy to serve their own ends.

What is Agenda 21? The constitutionalist movement has heard vague echoes in recent years about a threat to the free economy from this Agenda 21.

Agenda 21 is not new. The New American magazine (and its affiliate, the John Birch Society), was one of the few constitutionalist organizations that was present when it was drawn up, back at the 1992 Earth Summit on climate change in Rio de Janeiro. The summit, organized by the United Nations, brought together the most extreme environmental activists from around the world to deal with the supposed threat from global warming, and Agenda 21 was the document they drew up.

On June 20, the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot invoke federal common law in an effort to limit so-called greenhouse-gas emissions.