Physicist laments lost foothold on space program

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, says we've lost our interest in space.

"We've lost the motivation to make it (space) a priority," Tyson said. "I think there's always been some background activities going on. The space shuttle has been going on for several decades. But my criticism of that, was that we were boldly going where hundreds have gone before.

"If you want to actually advance the space frontier, what you want to do is move that frontier out. Every time you do that, a whole new level of interest and curiosity is stimulated, spawned for having done so."

Tyson urged the expansion of the space program's frontiers. "If you reengage the manned program in such a way that we're going places beyond low Earth orbit, then you can change the culture of the nation. Turn it into one that recognizes that advances in science and technology are not only interesting, but they're actually fundamental to the stability of our economy. "

Tyson's new book, "Space Chronicles" is out now.

(Watch the video above for Tyson's comments about engaging the public, and the asteroid that will "buzzcut" Earth in 2020.)