Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Obama's 'Space Summit'

April 15, 2010

Discovery launch. Source: NASA

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER – FL – My head is spinning as I sit here waiting for President Obama to do what should have been done when the White House rolled out its budget for NASA: do the vision thing.

I have faith in POTUS to deliver the goods and explain his revolutionary approach to space exploration.

Here are a few things to remember as you watch the speech and listen to the spin:

The dramatic job loss that has so many people riled is not the result of the Obama White House shift in space. The shuttle retirement was actually set in stone by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. The shuttle fleet could fly on longer – each orbiter is rated to fly 100 flights – but the CAIB decided that it was time to move on to the next thing in space. Something safer.

Obama is also not responsible for the so-called “gap” between the shuttle and whatever is next. The gap is an artifact of inattention and meager funding over several years. Even before the CAIB gave us a date certain for retiring the shuttles, we knew the fleet could not – and should not – fly forever. And yet no one on either end of Pennsylvania Avenue had the persistence and forethought to insist the investment in a new ride be healthy and timely enough to give US astronauts seamless access to space on US vehicles once the orbiters were chalked and pickled in museums. George Bush painted a vision for space exploration that was bold and exciting – but it never got the funding it needed to get off the ground.

This is the hand Team Obama has been dealt. The shuttles are going away – and the program of record is way over budget and behind schedule. The gap is now a chasm – and those shuttle jobs cannot be saved no matter what.

So what to do? Obama could double down on the Bush vision, but the truth is that would be good money after bad. It also means NASA would have to deep-six the International Space Station at the end of 2015 (no money to pay for it – and the moonshot program know as Constellation) and would have to continue shorting budgets for technology development, earth sciences, robotic missions and aeronautics research.

Now imagine dropping the station into the Pacific in five years – after 25 years of construction it is finally all but complete – and in a position to yield some scientific discoveries. And imagine what kind of message this would send to the 15 other nations who are a part of the ISS project.

So couple all this with the fact that some things have changed since Bush announced his vision in 2004. The time now is ripe for a new brand of companies to make their mark in space. Why shouldn’t the government stimulate a new sector of the economy – instead of stifling it?

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Flexible Path 'Lite'

February 4, 2010
Leroy Chiao, U.S.

Image via Wikipedia

There was something else that further cemented this deal – it was the work of the Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee,  headed by veteran aerospace executive Norm Augustine. The group delivered its list of options to the Obama Administration last year. For those of you keeping score at home – the White has chosen what is know as “Flexible Path” – but the commission members were hoping there would be $3 billion a year extra in the budget to get busy with some far flung plans.  What the Administration proposes is – to borrow a phrase – flexible path – “lite” – as in light on funding. I checked in with Augustine Committee member Leroy Chiao:

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And the Rumors Start

December 21, 2009

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Precious little has been said about the specifics of Charlie Bolden’s Wednesday White House meeting with Obama on the future of human spaceflight.  But a “Science Insider” blog post over at AAAS has tongues wagging.  We can’t vouch for the content…and the post is anonymously sourced…so who really knows?  It is worth a look-see, for your reading enjoyment.

But on Friday, the White House said no final decision has been made.

“The meeting with Bolden was informational, not decisional,” said Nick Shapiro, White House spokesman.

“The President confirmed his commitment to human space exploration, and the goal of ensuring that the nation is on a sustainable path to achieving our aspirations in space,” Shapiro said. “Against a backdrop of serious challenges with the existing program, the Augustine Committee has offered several key findings and a range of options for how the nation might improve its future human space flight activities. The two spoke about the Administrator’s work at NASA and they also discussed the Augustine Committee’s analysis.”

Human Spaceflight – Let's Light the Candle!

December 21, 2009
President Barak Obama and now-NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden meet at the White House, May 23. 2009.  Official White House photo by Pete Souza.

President Barak Obama and now-NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden meet at the White House, May 23. 2009. Official White House photo by Pete Souza.

But just what kind of candle will U.S. astronauts be strapped onto in the post space shuttle era?

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden dropped into the White House  the other day – and met with the President Obama to talk about what is next for the space agency.

We are told the meeting went well – that no decision has been made – but it will come soon – and when it does the President himself will make the announcement.

If you are a tea leaf reader – that last little tidbit bodes well for those of us who want the US to stay in the manned space racket.

Would Obama stand before the the nation and give a speech which says in essence “We choose NOT to go to the moon…because it is too hard and too expensive”? Unlikely, I think. Just my two cents here.

The White House space confab comes four months after the Augustine Committee shared its thoughts on what the US should – and should not do in the in the after shuttle years.

No matter which course Team Obama chooses – it means giving NASA about 3 billion dollars more a year – or stop sending humans to space.

So the Space Nation waits for word – hoping for a puff of white smoke from the conclave.

Let’s begin with a word from one of the August members of the Augustine commission – former NASA astronaut, and our good friend Leroy Chiao.   Watch below, or read the transcript of our interview.

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