Monday, August 10, 2009

Will President Obama keep or break space promise

A year ago this week, President Barack Obama came to Titusville.

Then, he was a candidate locked in a fierce battle for the White House. He needed Florida.

People packed the room at Brevard Community College. Many were space workers or people with ties to the industry.

They longed to hear him outline his plans for NASA. Until then, Obama's campaign had released conflicting policy statements, one cut NASA's budget by billions to fund education and the other boosted space spending and added one extra shuttle mission.

In light of coming decisions about NASA's future, it seems worthwhile to check back on exactly what the president said last August in Titusville.

"Let me be clear," the president said, "we cannot cede our leadership in space. That's why I am going to close the gap, ensure that our space program doesn't suffer when the shuttle goes out of service."

His goal was "making sure that all of those who work in the space industry in Florida do not lose their jobs when the space shuttle is retired because we cannot afford to lose their expertise."

He promised a space program that would "help grow the economy right here in Brevard County and right here in Florida. That's what we're going to do."

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and legendary astronaut John Glenn, stumping for Obama, reached out to reporters. Aides pressed the media to keep noting Obama's commitment to "close the gap" and save space jobs in Florida.

My point: The promise was neither ambiguous nor subtle. The campaign wanted voters here to know Obama was good for space and good for space jobs.

Now comes the question: Can he keep the promise?

President Obama's space committee is finishing its report on options for NASA. Estimates say 4,000 to 7,500 Kennedy Space Center workers will lose their jobs in 2011, after the shuttle orbiters are sent off to museums.

Saving the most space jobs short-term means extending the shuttle and space station. That comes at the price of delaying sending astronauts deeper into space.

So, will the president act to save space jobs now to protect the fragile recovery of Central Florida's economy? Will he accept short-term economic pain (and political fallout in the 2010 and 2012 elections) to set NASA on a bolder course? Or might he give several billion extra dollars a year to NASA to try to do both?

There are space workers here who voted for Obama because of the promise made in Titusville. Some were even Republicans. There are others willing to concede circumstances changed and Obama must do what he thinks is right, even if it breaks a campaign-trail pledge.

The White House could use the economy to justify anything. The president could say we must fly the shuttles longer to save high-paying tech jobs for now. He also could say there's just no extra money in these lean times for space exploration.

But he can't both save jobs and chart a bold new space strategy without a lot more money. There's no indication he is ready to give the space industry one of those super-sized bailout deals like the government gave the financial, real estate and auto industries.


Anonymous said...

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

When Barack Obama the candidate spoke out of both sides of his mouth in order to carry Florida, first saying he would raid NASA’s budget to help fund his vision of D.C. centralized education, then from the other side of the teleprompter a pledge to do no harm to the agency, he should have been taken by all as a lying politician.

Anyone who relied on the latter promise in deciding to vote for Obama as president should probably considering retiring and voting for nothing more substantial in the future than favorite American Idol.

That way, you won’t get fooled again.

Anonymous said...

reality check on o bama?

Anonymous said...

Good editorial. More on Obama's promises:

Anonymous said...

Why we are all suckers whether democrat, republican, independent, CPA or whatever. Please watch with an open mind, it's long but will shine light on our countries critical situation.

Anonymous said...

A politician's first "promise" is usually the most sincere - before his handlers and the media get a hold of him and force him to modify (i.e. lie and make stuff up) his position. So I always believed President Obama's first policy statement was the truest, to delay Constellation, slash NASA's budget and send the money elsewhere.I think it's becoming clear that he is following through on his original/first promise and we're all going to suffer for it.

Anonymous said...

The upcoming changes to the space program are a big test for Senator Nelson. Since Brevard is a majority Republican county, it would seem obvious that future space industry jobs would go elsewhere in the country to Democratic leaning areas, unless Nelson's sphere of influence is strong enough.

Anonymous said...

"Why we are all suckers whether democrat, republican, independent, CPA or whatever."

You might want to check yourself on that one. I did not vote for your god like savior obama. never have like him, never will. He is a liar, a cheat, and also NOT AMERICAN!!! It blows my mind that people voted for this guy. Well, you got your change, how do you like that spoon full of crap that you got.........can you hear it.........................................................yep obama supporters tearing off those bumper stickers!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Obama and promise should not be in the same sentence.
You know when he is lying, his jaw is moving.

Tupac Goldstein said...

Americans should by now realize the the Obama does not honor his word. His record thus far is a string of broken promises.

As to our space program, just before Obama came to Florida he told a teachers group in New Hampshire that he was going to cut the NASA
budget and use that money for his education programs.

You decide.

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Anonymous said...

Just curious, who was the last President to form a panel to give a long hard look at NASA and the future of America's space program?

Obama has already done more for space than any president since JFK and LBJ. This panel will issue a report that lays out the options, the consequences and the costs.

I attended the Augustine Panel's hearing July 30 in Cocoa Beach. (I doubt that any of you Tea Baggers did, since the meeting was respectful, no one screamed or waved Nazi signs.) The panelists are well aware of how NASA has been neglected, the fiscal constraints, and the need to make it clear that NASA needs not just a vision but also the funding to fulfill that vision. Senator Nelson said via video that the Panel shouldn't feel it necessary to shoehorn their ideas into the current budget -- they need to tell it like it is, and what it will cost to do it right.

I'm willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt. This panel of astronauts, aerospace leaders and experts know more collectively about the subject than any other group on the planet. Let's see what the report says, what Obama does with it, and how far he's willing to go to get Congress to support the vision.

Gaetano Marano said...


I believe that Barack Obama should do a speech about Mars like what supposed in this article:


Anonymous said...

I can't remember who it was that originally said to stop flying the shuttle end go back to the moon?? That's when the gap was first established. ANY shortening of that gap will take hard work on the CURRENT administration.

Anonymous said...

Cry baby Republicans, whine and cry, throw insults and baseless accusations. You offer nothing except insults and roadblocks. Not one damn positive thing have your Republican representatives offered in return on the space program, the economy, healthcare. The easiest job in the world is being a critic, that takes nothing more then a poor attitude.

He doesn't have a magic wand, give his administration some time.

What did Bush do to save your program? What would have McCain and Palen done?

It would have been much cheaper and easier to explore the space between Palins ears, that's for sure!

Anonymous said...

Cry baby GOP.

CLR4theApproach said...

I see all the right and left are out.. When are you people going to get on the same page?? this is not a politcal issue, its a United States issue of leadership and pride.. it's about the future of research... it's about jobs all over the country.. it's about keeping that talent in tack to take on the next Gen program..

Not Since Kennedy, has the NASA budget been properly funded.. NASA has had to do alot with much less than other agencys... If you want the kids to have high expectations for their careers, to study science and math.. then this is the program to give them that spark and desire to follow that direction..

Right now, all they see is the impending colapse and devistation that will affect thousands of families including theres.. they would naturally not have any interest in following anything NASA has to do for fear they will see the same fate..

Obama has yet to fullfill his PROMISE made to not only us in this business, but to motivate the students and inspire them or any of us.. if he want's to be like and follow many of Kenndy's ways, then he better start being positive in his speaches, and doing something about this program... bail out the USA for a change.. not the greedy banks or car companies..

Anonymous said...

You can read the posts of the "Propagandist's" here ,look for the ones crying "their all the same R"s and D's"but its clear they are NOT all the same .Bush kept it going ven after losing one on re-try gutsy .
McCain understood technology and Space,Obama understands and seeks the acquisition of unchallenged power ,I believe McCain was flawed but also he would have either accelerated Ares or kept both ,some would have lost jobs ,but not the possible Nuclear job loss the article talks about .
We won't ever know results under McCain because McCain lacked the Billionairs and Foreign money to fund his weak run ,but we will see soon regardless, what Obama will do .I expect him to cut jobs big time but give a speech saying he is keeping them ,that would be in full accord with his usual talks ,like saying over and over he won't raise joe Average's taxes ,but his top Finance guys NOW say its a new day ,new deal..
Maybe he will surprise and do both ,maybe .

Anonymous said...

Where is King Soloman when you really need him?


JD said...

The last president to form a panel to look into the American Space program? On January 14, 2004 Bush gave NASA and the country a new challenge, a Vision For Space Exploration after a quiet but thorough study of the American space program within the White House after the Columbia disaster.

What is interesting about President Obama, especially given his rhetoric at Titusville, is that he still does not know what to do about NASA and our nation’s space program, that there never was a consensus of simply continuing or accelerating Constellation. So, the White House established the Human Space Flight Review Committee, led by aerospace sage Norm Augustine, a smart step. But that is no substitute for money. And so far, the President has not kept his Titusville promises, ergo his Road to Damascus Conversion from anti-Space persecutor to pro-Space apostle wherein Obama played the part of Paul and Sen. Nelson that of the Almighty, to close the gap and fund Constellation.

What the Augustune Committee has so far revealed is that our nation’s space exploration program is seriously underfunded to an approximate amount of $20 billion, in large part thanks to cuts that the White House has indicated are coming, that NASA does not have the money do…well, pretty much anything save either fly the Shuttle and kill it’s replacement, the Orion capsule and the Ares I rocket, or retire the Shuttle in 2010 as scheduled and not fly Orion/Ares I until sometime around 2017.

Augustine has said that his Committee’s final report will not provide any “recommendations”, providing rather options to the President, a deft move on the part of Augustine as it forces President Obama to play his hand on NASA funding with no political cover should he decide to delay or cancel parts of Constellation.

I hope that President Obama has the judgement and honesty to fullfill his Titusville campaign promises. But the funding tea leaves are indicating otherwise.

The mid-terrm elections are just under 15 months away. If by that time the President has not carried through on the promises he made in Titusville, to close the Shuttle Orion/Ares gap and fund Constellation, Space Coast voters will likely exact a political price from Democratic Party candidates at the state and federal level and those leaders in the area, such as some in the EDC of the Space Coast, who backed the President during the 2008 campaign.

Anonymous said...

Even on this blog you have thugs who'll say and do whatever their master bids. The Obama is unqualified to make any decisions concerning NASA or technology and that is why he had this panel created.
Now whether or not the panel is actually interested in exploration and development of a new spacecraft, that will be reveiled soon enough.
If the Obama stays true to form, he will again say he supports NASA while not funding any portion of the program.
The Obama has his mind set on more important schemes like the transformation of this country to a more socialistic nanny state, so he has no time for this piddly space program that will only take the focus away from him.
The Obama is a selfish person like many of the people he represents who believe they deserve more from the rich, more from companies, more from government with no effort on their parts, like those who call concerned citizens, teabaggers, cry babies, and the holier than thou individuals who brag that they attended a meeting and now know so much more than anyone else.
They continue to swim with the Obama even thought they are really taking a dip with a ravenous shark.

Anonymous said...

You Union D-Bag KSC shuttle workers will get no more than what is coming to you. A pink slip.
In 1997 the Government Accountability Office did a report showing that the US Air Force could more than double the operational efficiency of the shuttle program with a staff of less than 2000 active duty servicemen and women. How many does USA/LM/Boeing employ? 6,000-8,000: 10,000?

Anonymous said...

Where are the "Jack Kennedys" and "Jim Webbs" of the current generation?

Who will be a "Saint Paul" for Human Spaceflight?

How many times do We, The Species need to ask; "Who will Stand Up?"

Moon First, Then Mars

Anonymous said...

>>If the Obama stays true to form, he will again say he supports NASA while not funding any portion of the program.

Like GW Bush proclaimed the Vision for Space Exploration, and didn't fund it? Like GW Bush killed the entire technology demonstrator program, all development of real advanced technology? Like Bush Sr. proclaimed the "Space Exploration Initiative" (also proposing manned flight to Mars) and didn't fund it? Like Reagan proclaimed the space station program, and didn't fund it? And the National Aerospace Plane, and didn't fund it? Since all NASA activities are funded by taxes, and since most Republicans believe all taxes are evil, it's difficult to understand how they expect NASA to do anything.

Just 8 years ago there was no gap. But George W. Bush wanted to put his name on a grandiose and poorly-conceived program: Flying to Mars (and beyond!) without spending a dime. What a deal! To do this he had to kill off the Shuttle ten years earlier than planned, firing thousands and leaving the US with no manned launch capability. So the STS logistics contracts were canceled, and they then said, "What a surprise! We're running out of spare parts!" The orbiters were designed for 100 missions each, but they are getting "old" and "unreliable". But not so unreliable we can't fly them. And every year mods are made to improve safety. So how can the Shuttles be getting more dangerous?

The truth is that absent a tax increase, which even the most ardent space enthusiasts would block, there is not enough money to go to the moon. So there will be no VSE. And thanks to Bush's grandiose but penurious vision, soon there will be no Shuttle either.

Anonymous said...

NASA should be split into 2 agencies..1 with it's original mission of research and exploration (mostly umanned)...and the other a quasi-governmental organisation tasked with developing space, a "Nation Space Development Corporation", that can advertise, sell sponsorships, solicit donation, with some basic govt funding (I'm sure NASA would gladly give up $1 bln a year if they could get back to their core science projects). It would be a co-operative lead by a visionary-type and getting help and support from the Dept of Energy, Transportation, SBA etc, as well as including any private businesses and interested individuals who would want to contribute. If we want to know what is needed to live, work and thrive in space, we need to be there finding out. Having NASA doing all the science, and try to delevope space at the same time is asking too much of an agency that was started to do all that.

Anonymous said...

No-one keeps campaign promises anymore. This is not news.

Anonymous said...

I live in Brevard County and is as mad as everyone about Obama and the space program it doesnt make sense to bail out all these big corporations and then let 7000 people loose there jobs and turn Brevard County into a ghost town almost tripling the job loss numbers in the private sector but I have been out at the Space Center and alot of waist out there and if the program is to continue they need to do there part!

Anonymous said...

Ok I have several points to make if I may I have never posted on anything like this but this is a subject that is very important to me I would like to say its all well and good to sit here and complain about this that and the other but is anyone willing to take a tax hike to pay for it We as americans have a nasty habbit of saying giveme giveme giveme but everyone complains when it comes time to day for it here is what I am proposing First give NASA the money it needs including a generous ammount for over runs to get the Aries 1 and Orion Capusle ready to fly missions to ISS by 2013 second extend the shuttle miossions to its origional retirement date of 2012 Three develop either a shuttle C type of titan dirived HLV for ISS resupply missions till the Aries V HLV is ready to take over such missions now this would only cost 50 billion dollars give or take but thats only dubble to current budget and I think well worth it we must also keep in mind that if we have any hope of getting to the Moon or mas we need to send alot more robotic missions to both places so that it is safe to do so Oh and need i remind everyone that the ISS is already a decade old and probaly has only another decade left in it so If we want to have another station we will need to put money aside for that just my two cents I will be checking back to see what comments I get on this


Anonymous said...

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
One deceit needs many others, and so the whole house is built in the air and must soon come to the ground.
No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence.
“A man only becomes wise when he begins to calculate the approximate depth of his ignorance.”

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