UPDATED: The Candidates and NASA’s Future

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FOR OR AGAINST?


UPDATED: The blog, Space Politics has breaking news about the possibility of a coming Dem platform fight over NASA.

“…Is there a “potential fracture in the Democratic party over space”? That’s the claim of a piece published last week by the newspaper chain Examiner.com by Patricia Phillips, a “former NASA information officer”. One one side, she claims, are people like Sen. Bill Nelson, who she perceives as strong supporters of NASA, and on the other presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, “who’s widely regarded as anti-space, despite this weeks’s Google spin.” (Google spin?) She argues a clash at the convention is possible. “Denver could bring sparks as Democratic leaders try to hammer in the planks of a party platform… That could be one of the major fights of the upcoming Democratic National Convention.”


The most important advantage humanity has is an active, avid, working, successful space program.  If we do not reach for space we will eventually die as a species and as a planet.  Space is our only real future.  It is important to see what the candidates feel about space, what they say and what their intentions are, in their own words.

John McCain

“…John McCain is a strong supporter of NASA and the space program. He is proud to have sponsored legislation authorizing funding consistent with the President’s vision for the space program, which includes a return of astronauts to the Moon in preparation for a manned mission to Mars. He believes support for a continued US presence in space is of major importance to America’s future innovation and security. He has also been a staunch advocate for ensuring that NASA funding is accompanied by proper management and oversight to ensure that the taxpayers receive the maximum return on their investment. John McCain believes curiosity and a drive to explore have always been quintessential American traits. This has been most evident in the space program, for which he will continue his strong support. …”

Barack Obama

“…And we have to do more than provide short-term relief. We have to secure our long-term prosperity and strengthen America’s competitiveness in the 21st century. One of the areas where we are in danger of losing our competitive edge is our space program. When I was growing up, NASA inspired the world with achievements we are still proud of. Today, we have an administration that has set ambitious goals for NASA without giving NASA the support it needs to reach them. As a result, they’ve had to cut back on research, and trim their programs, which means that after the Space Shuttle shuts down in 2010, we’re going to have to rely on Russian spacecraft to keep us in orbit.We cannot cede our leadership in space. That’s why I will help close the gap and ensure that our space program doesn’t suffer when the Shuttle goes out of service by working with Senator Bill Nelson to add at least one additional Space Shuttle flight beyond 2010; by supporting continued funding for NASA; by speeding the development of the Shuttle’s successor; and by making sure that all those who work in the space industry in Florida do not lose their jobs when the Shuttle is retired – because we cannot afford to lose their expertise….”


John McCain

“…“While my opponent seems content to retreat from American exploration of Space for a decade, I am not,” he said. “As President, I will act to make ensure our astronauts will continue to explore space, and not just by hitching a ride with someone else. I intend to make sure that the NASA constellation program has the resources it needs so that we can begin a new era of human space exploration.”…”

Barack Obama

“…There were also some interesting comments made by Obama in conversations with the media. According to Florida Today, Obama would not commit to supporting a $2-billion increase in NASA’s budget, saying that he first wants to have “a thorough evaluation of a combination of manned and unmanned missions, what kind of exploration would be the most appropriate.” (The article is unclear whether they were asking for a $2B/year increase, or a one-time $2B increase to cover the costs of the Columbia accident and aftermath, as has been attempted through the so-called “Mikulski Miracle”.)Obama also said that he had yet to decide whether to continue with the Vision for Space Exploration’s long-term goals of returning humans to the Moon and eventual human missions to Mars. Telling, though, is the claim in the paper that Obama would rely on former senator John Glenn for advice. Glenn was critical of the implementation of the Vision in House testimony last week, calling it an “unfunded mandate” (Obama made similar statements in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel on Friday, saying “the funding has never even come close to approaching what was promised, and so NASA’s ended up cannibalizing other programs.”) Glenn argued in his testimony that the agency’s budget should be increased by about $3 billion a year to allow the shuttle to continue operating beyond 2010….”

John McCain

“…”Fifty years ago today, President Eisenhower signed the bill that launched the United States on the magnificent journey to space discovery and exploration. In doing so, he sent a powerful message to the world that the United States would harness its creativity, inventiveness and drive to lead all others into this most distant frontier. Since that time, Presidents of both parties have remained steadfast in guaranteeing U.S. leadership in space. Under current plans, the United States will retire the space shuttle in 2010 after its final mission to the International Space Station, and thus lose the capability to send on our own, an American, to space. While my opponent seems content to retreat from American exploration of space for a decade, I am not. As President, I will act to ensure our astronauts will continue to explore space, and not just by hitching a ride with someone else. I intend to make sure that the NASA Constellation program has the resources it needs so that we can begin a new era of human space exploration. A country that sent a man to the moon should expect no less.”…”

Pay attention to Obama’s previous statements:

…WORDS MATTER: Barack Obama Said He Would Pay For His Early Education Program By Delaying The NASA Constellation Program…According To The Early Education Program Plan On His Own Website, Barack Obama Pays For His Program By In Part Delaying The NASA Constellation Program. “The early education plan will be paid for by delaying the NASA Constellation Program for five years, using purchase cards and the negotiating power of the government to reduce costs of standardized procurement, auctioning surplus federal property, and reducing the erroneous payments identified by the Government Accountability Office, and closing the CEO pay deductibility loophole. The rest of the plan will be funded using a small portion of the savings associated with fighting the war in Iraq.” (Obama For America, “Barack Obama’s Plan For Lifetime Success Through Education,” www.barackobama.com, 11/20/07)

· In November, Barack Obama Proposed Cutting NASA’s Budget To Fund His Education Programs. “To pay for his education program, Obama would eliminate tax-deductibility of CEO pay by corporations and delay NASA’s program to return to the moon and then journey to Mars. (Martha T. Moore, “Obama’s Education Plan Includes New Standards,” USA Today, 11/21/2007)

· Houston Chronicle: Barack Obama’s Proposals To Delay Space Programs Would Hurt The Houston Area. “Houston is home to the Johnson Space Center. Obama has said he wants to postpone NASA’s Constellation program for five years. Should that happen, the gap between the end of the shuttle program and flight testing of a new spacecraft would exceed 10 years — years with no U.S. ability to fly humans in space. Would Obama really force such a gap, deterring Americans from pursuing careers in space science and crippling the U.S. space program for a generation?” (Editorial, “How Would Barack Obama’s Positions Affect Houston And Its Residents,” Houston Chronicle, 7/31/08)

Today, In An Interview With The Orlando Sentinel, Barack Obama Also Criticized The Constellation Program. BARACK OBAMA: “I think the constellation project is a bold vision but we haven’t thought through all the steps to get there and what the funding sources are.” (Barack Obama, Interview With The Orlando Sentinel, 8/2/08)…”

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