President Obama and NASA
Much is being said and bantered about President Obama's direction for NASA. Because I live in Space City USA (Houston), I get to hear more than I care to these days.
NPR has an excellent point-by-point review of the different programs and how they will be affected by Obama's decisions. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126023150
Here is my take on each of the programs:
1. The Space Shuttle: George W. Bush put in place a plan to retire the Shuttle program in 2004, to make room for his plan to return to the moon. Not surprisingly, the mass of Bush supporters here have conveniently forgotten that Bush was the one who decided to scrap the Shuttle because they're quick to blame President Obama.
2. Constellation: It was due to be scrapped because of long-term underfunding (again, not the current president's fault); Obama, however, revived one component of the Constellation program: the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle.
3. The Space Station: Obama decided to extend the program by five years, out to 2020.
4. Private Space Taxis: Obama's primary focus in the space field is to start a new industry -- corporate spacecraft builders. Funny, all the chatter about Obama being about bigger government, yet he's not getting credit for finding a private sector solution rather than a public one (NASA).
5. Heavy Lift Launcher: for interplanetary missions and deep space exploration. Obama committed $3.1 Billion to design and build the vehicle by 2015.
6. Return to the moon: "We've been there before," Obama said. Instead, he wants to focus on destinations no one else has gone before. (Cue all Trekkies...)
My summary of the issue: President Obama is catching a great deal of flak over his policies regarding NASA and the space program. I've tried to find fault in it, just to try to see what the skeptics are talking about. I truly can't find any. The biggest fear here in Houston is that the Texas jobs will be lost, and that Obama prefers the Florida programs. If that's true, it is upsetting to me as well. When Bill Clinton took office, one of his first acts was to decimate NASA; the Houston program was hit very hard and our economy took a beating. However, I'm willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt. It's very clear he appreciates the space program and the larger good it provides our country.