Obama Ponders the Future of Human Space Flight

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384659main_Report_WidgetMy name is Miles O’Brien and and I drive a truck. Now can I go to the Senate – and insist our space program gets a little more scratch – so we can once again scratch the surface of another world – with human boots? Apparently not – and for those of you who space lovers who like to read tea leaves – the picture is not pretty this week at all…

The first omen came from the President’s political guru David Axelrod – who told reporters when it comes to space “The president is going to speak to that through his budget”  – meaning no uplifting Obama oratory that aims us for the stars.

Not good according to Democratic senator – and onetime shuttle payload specialist – Bill Nelson- He says he’s told the White House  “that that’s a mistake…I hope they are reconsidering that the President comes out and makes his own statement about what he plans for the future of NASA…”

All this talk is putting the DC rumor mill into warp drive – Space News reports “Obama’s 2011 budget request is no longer expected to include the $1 billion boost that has undergirded NASA’s planning.” Remember what the Augustine commission told us over the summer – you can’t get beyond low earth orbit on a shoestring – the committee said NASA should get $3 billion more a year. Houston, we could really have a problem…

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9 Responses to “Obama Ponders the Future of Human Space Flight”

  1. charlesthespaceguy Says:

    The President “spoke” when he watched as the first Stimulus bill was assembled by the Congress. There was plentiful money for High Speed Rail, High Speed Internet for rural areas, etc. How much money was there for High Speed Inspiration? High Speed Retention of Hard Won Capability? A trickle of money. We could have decided to extend the Shuttle and retain our capability to rescue and repair satellites (surely a useful capability, considering our dependence on satellites), retain our capability to get astronauts into orbit (surely useful when one half of the capability has trouble – to have a backup), etc. But no. Our space leaders said that we had to act now or lose capability. We did not act. We did not decide. We did not discuss.
    Now, we are at the end of our ability to get astronauts into orbit. We must depend on a Russia who’s government encourages anti-American demonstrations. If their Soyuz has another problem – and they tell us about it – there is no redundant capability to get people up to or down from Space Station.
    With luck, we can begin to rebuild our space capability in about ten years. With luck, it will be with commercial rockets that will not entirely depend on the un-dependable Federal appropriations process. Orion – regardless of what rocket it goes up on – will not fly until 2018, and will not be out of flight test for several years after that. Both President Bush and President Obama will leave the legacy of the US having abandoned a capability that you would think we would value.

    • andylevinson Says:

      Is there a spaceport in Chicago run by the chicago political mob….?

      Maybe Obama could move the Johnson space center in Texas to chicago?

  2. mikepolitik Says:

    Obama is only interested in being the first black president. He is not interested in being JFK or FDR or better.

    Barack Obama is nothing more than a spokesperson for the status quo. If you don’t believe me, look at this cabinet and what he has “accomplished”.

    Martians will invade Earth before Obama does something relevant for humanity.

  3. Tweets that mention Obama Ponders the Future of Human Space Flight - Miles O'Brien - Uplinks - True/Slant -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by absolutspacegrl, Tomas Vorobjov, Edward Jensen, MAF News, Rschrim and others. Rschrim said: RT @spacefuture: Obama Ponders the Future of Human Space Flight #space http://bit.ly/7trNNB // In other words, sorry NASA. […]

  4. johnniepal Says:

    I am not optimistic about the future of going beyond low earth orbit. The budget numbers are coming out next week and I unfortunately believe the numbers will fall well short. This is very sad for a one reason close to my heart. Today’s kids need inspiration. It is to easy for them to be inspired by touchdown celebrations and athletes who have no moral values. When I was little my father met Neil Armstrong. I had his autographed picture displayed in my room till I left for college. (He was even above my Farah Faucet picture). These type of responsible figures need to be able to inspire our children. Without a progressive space program there will be no inspiration for our kids. They won’t be inspired by looking to the stars. Instead, they will be inspired by end zone celebrations. I tutor kids in math in my kids school. One little boy has told me recently he has never seen a Shuttle launch. I live just north of Daytona Beach. You can see it from your back yard!! Sad that there is not more of an incentive to witness the space program. The launches should be broadcast into the classrooms. The astronauts need to go visit more classrooms. NASA needs to be in the schools. Our children need a space program so that they can have something to look up to. Obama needs to fork over what the industry leaders say it needs to do this.

  5. davidlosangeles Says:

    Mr. O’Brien,

    As a total science nerd who got a Ph.D. and runs a laboratory I am naturally inclined to favor human space flight. However, as a someone who likes to understand the world as it is as opposed to how I would like it to be, I am against it. Given the problems we have in the world right now, it is just too expensive with too little benefits.

  6. kidgenius Says:

    I love space research and I believe that one day we can make this important to humanity. However, like the good sci fi movies of yesteryear, i believe space exploration will eventually be privatized once the industry figures out how to make real money out of it.

    But for now, I’m going to side with the President on this one. This is one of those “…lets not get ahead of ourselves” sort of moments where priorities take precedence. There is far to much work and research to be done and that can be done right here on our own planet, Earth. With aging infrastructures, global warming and heroin-esque addiction to fossil fuels, we (humanity) really have to focus on sustaining what we already have.

    Also, how do we expect to meet new civilizations when we cant seem to get along with ourselves, essentially are own kind?? Think ‘the day the earth stood still (1951)’ or ‘District 9’.

    But once we can get together on this, there is a whole universe yet to explore out there, for which I am all about. We just have so much yet to learn about ourselves and our own planet!

    • johnniepal Says:

      Regarding you comment -This is one of those “…lets not get ahead of ourselves”-. We have to be ahead of ourselves. The opportunity to continue to be in space can not be lost. It takes years to develop new launch platforms. You can not just decide to go to space and be there in 6 months. We have to stay in the game. It also helps to inspire our youth rather having them sit in front of the TV or on Facebook. Also, we did not get along with ourselves when we first developed the space program. When we first went to the moon this country was heavily divided regarding discrimination. We were also in a war in Southeast Asia. So nothing has changed. Only the occupants of the White House. Exploring space could also provide research for space based solar energy to reduce the need for heroin-esque addiction to fossil fuels. Let our kids dream and set high goals for space. Let them look up.

  7. 4timking Says:

    As a 10 year old boy I watched the Apollo missions unfold on my parents black and white TV and dreamed of the day when I could add my bootprints to some alien world. Now as a 50 year old man it appears that dream is not only dead for me, but for the next two generations as well.

    The late Arthur C. Clarke testified before Congress some years ago and said “If you take me too seriously you’ll go broke. But if you don’t take me seriously enough your children will go broke.”

    If this is all the better America can do in 2010 God help our children.

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