Thursday, April 15, 2010

Obama announces asteroid mission, help for KSC workers

NASA astronauts will test new exploration spacecraft and rockets early in the next decade in preparation for a deep space mission by 2025, President Barack Obama said today in a space policy address at Kennedy Space Center.

The first mission would be to an asteroid, Obama said, gradually leading to a mission to orbit Mars by the mid-2030s.

"And a landing on Mars will follow," Obama said. "And I expect to be around to see it."

In a 25-minute speech, Obama defended his decision to end the Constellation moon program and said his plan would create 2,500 more more Space Coast jobs than Constellation would have.

He promised help for Kennedy Space Center workers that will dislocated by the shuttle program's retirement this year after three more flights.

"This is based on a decision that was made six years ago, not six months ago, but that doesn't make it any less painful for families and communities affected as this decision becomes reality," he said.

Obama requested by Aug. 15 a $40-million, multi-agency plan for economic development initiatives that would help displaced shuttle workers transition to new jobs.

The president said his new approach, which would enlist private companies to transport astronauts to the International Space Station, would return astronauts to space sooner and more frequently than Constellation would have.

While cancelling Constellation, Obama said he wants to keep a version of its Orion spacecraft to serve as an International Space Station emergency escape vehicle, a decision that likely saves several hundred jobs expected at KSC.

He said the design for a heavy-lift rocket needed for deep space exploration would be chosen no later than 2015, after a $3-billion research effort.

Obama touted his program's emphasis on ground-breaking new technologies that could lower mission costs and establish a more sustainable program of exploration.

"What we're looking for is not just to continue on the same path -- we want to leap into the future. We want major breakthroughs, a transformative agenda for NASA," he said.

Obama praised Apollo-era astronauts who said had inspired him and the nation, recognizing that many of them have been critical of his proposals. But he said today's challenges were different that during the Space Race.

"I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We've been there before," he said of Constellation's focus on the moon. "Buzz (Aldrin) has been there. There's a lot more of space to explore, and a lot more to learn when we do."

"The bottom line is nobody is more committed to manned space flight, to human exploration of space than I am," Obama said. "But we've got to do it in a smart way, and we can't just keep on doing the same old things that we've been doing and thinking that somehow is going to get us to where we want to go."

Obama flew into KSC on Air Force One at 1:30 p.m. and departed around 4 p.m., as a space conference including four panel discussions began.

After arriving and before his speech, Obama visited Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to see SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. NASA has contracted with SpaceX to deliver cargo to the space station, and the company plans to compete to taxi astronauts if Congress approves Obama's plan.

Click here for a full transcript of the president's speech.

IMAGE: Above, in the Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy Space Center, President Barack Obama addresses the participants of the Conference on the American Space Program for the 21st Century. In his remarks, he outlined the new course his administration is charting for NASA and the future of U.S. leadership in human spaceflight. Below, the president disembarks from Air Force One at the Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center. Photo credits: NASA/Jack Pfaller, Jim Grossmann.


Anonymous said...

"The bottom line is nobody is more committed to manned space flight, to human exploration of space than I am," Obama said.

Hahaha... I beg to differ. What does Obama even know about manned space flight? Only the little snippets of information his advisers have quickly briefed him on?

Anonymous said...

That's right. For everyone claiming he is killing all these things, remember what he said. This is a decision that was made 6 years ago, not 6 months ago.

Anonymous said...

ummm no.....Obama promised to continue his committment for support and funding for Constellation when he was campaigning in Florida....rememeber that you Bush bashers. He is putting the blame on this on someone else. This regime will go down as the ones that has destroyed America and for selling out the Chinese and Russians. Hope you all like the change you have voted for!!!

Jerry W said...


Anonymous said...

What a dog and pony show. Say nothing but say it with flare. We will have no space program until BO is out of office. NASA is now in the business of R&D. "Land an astronaut on an asteroid" - give me a friggin' break ! Mark this down...Nothing, I repeat nothing significant will happen at the space center until a change is made in our leadership. None of these pipe dreams spouted by this phony will ever materialize.

Anonymous said...

Boy! This regime sure loves NOT to do the will of the people....Must be turning into a dictator!!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 6:37, No, Obama didn't promise to extend Constellation. You are WRONG.

Anonymous said...

How much did it cost the taxpayers to have AF1 fly in for an hour or so, with all the security detail and all.

Anonymous said...

I liked his idea...NASA needs a new mission. They've gotten old, slow and inefficient. Now it's time to bring them back anew...give them something more important to the nation to focus on. Build the private commercial space industry and let NASA focus on science.

Brevard needs to change there approach as well. They need to move out of the 70's and build themselves like St. Pete or Clearwater. It's time for them to change as well.

Anonymous said... a big liar and the sooner more people figure it out the better America will be.

Anonymous said...

complain complain complain

Anonymous said...

One Giant leap backwards for America, that's what Obama is trying to force on us.

America needs to be a leader in space. We should accept the risks of continuing to fly shuttle until a replacement is built and flying regularly. We may loose another seven astronauts if we do that, but they will die having accepted the risk as being worth the reward of keeping America a leader in space exploration. We're ordering hundreds of thousands of our troops to do this in Iraq and A-stan. I don't think you'll have any problem finding volunteers to fly shuttle for five more years as we build a replacement.

Instead, Obama is forcing his dream that we become more like Europeans in all ways, who have been bumming rides to orbit from other nations since the space race began.

Don't give up people, fight! Congress has the final say!

Anonymous said...

can't wait to see what the total job loss across the country is. Glad he is going to open up some lawn jobs/construction jobs for the displaced aerospace workers. But what are the unemployed lawn and construction workers to do?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 9:15: Watch this video and educate yourself on what this regime has said about NASA and Constellation: Maybe you will learn something about this so called leader....

Also he flip flops on the use of Soyuz! So loving your change now???

tex2 said...

Well said, I'm sure we'll all be fighting tooth and nail!

And we certainly expect Senator Nelson to strongly fight against any proposal that says we'll possibly be going somewhere after 15 more years. Other Congress members haven't blinked at all in their opposition to Obama's policies after hearing the speech.

What sense is there in a President who had promised support for a 2020's lunar program, with a statement that this was the orderly next space exploration step for America, to suddenly, inexplicably and irrationally want to totally cancel the goal and advocate instead that we should do 20 years of research to get to Mars???

As if wanting to destroy what would be a world leading, student inspiring 2020's lunar outpost isn't enough, he has to evoke these absolutely grating 4 words about the moon: "we've already been there." Grating most certainly to the fearlessly courageous astronauts and others who sacrificed to let America touch the moon. And grating to anyone with a hint of the spirit of exploration in them. Since 1972 we've heard astronauts and others saying, "What if Columbus discovered America and never went back?"

We need our Florida Congressional delegation, with Senators Nelson & Martinez joining together, to angrily shout those words to our President, and to summon the bold leadership of Kennedy to get us back on track in America's and NASA's return to the moon. To get back to a program that will lead up to an education invigorating, world leading NASA/allies science lab on the surface of our neighboring world, we need bold elected officials to shout Kennedy's words to our current President, "We choose..the moon!" Because that is the faster, closer, simple goal. The goal which President Obama said in 2003 is the orderly one for America's space program to acheive.

Anonymous said...

This guy is funny when he says the shuttle program is ending "based on a decision that was made six years ago, not six months ago." The sad thing is people are buying it...the same people who think ever word out of Obama's mouth should collect into a third testiment of the Bible. To him and all you Bush bashers, Bush that word carefully: SUGGESTED this...just like this president is suggesting an asteroid mission. Do you think the sitting president at the time of this bogus asteroid mission will have his hands tied to do it? Of course not. It will be cancelled a hundered times over before then. The same with the shuttle program. Bush only suggested the shuttle program ends in 2010. Obama is the one making the decision. Right after he was elected, Obama said the status of the shuttle program was one his top 12 things he needed to address immediately. Folks at KSC were working with the possibility of the shuttle program getting extended. That mode was in place until April 30, 2009. Surly, Obama could make even a hint of what he was planning on doing. (I'd hate to think what the other 11 issues were and if he treated them the same way. I hope they weren't important.) When he didn't open his big trap, for once, NASA had no choice but to begin the process of winding down the shuttle on May 1...still with no leadership from our president. NASA needed to continue blindly as it will be for years to come, apparently. You bashers honestly think Obama's hands were tied because of what Bush said in 2004? Not only did Obama lie, he showed absolutely no compassion for the workers affected by the shuttle by staying silent. He pushed this issue to the side because he didn't want to deal with it--because he DOESN'T care about the space program--and is taking the easy route by saying it's Bush's fault. The sad thing is so many people are buying this crap.

And for you same bunch of folks who have short-term memory loss: Bush suggested the end of the space shuttle to make way for another vehicle. At least he had a plan. Not only is Obama killing the shuttle, he's killing its successor. Where is the logic in that? This is the mentality of he guy running our country, who is making decisions that will directly affect many more Americans than relating to the space program. If tht doesn't make you nervous, you need some help.

Bottom line to you Bush bashers: take Politics 101 before you make ridiculous comments about something you have absolutely no clue about. Also, start thinking for yourself and don't blindly follow this Marxist leader we have.

Jerry w said...

Florida today editoral page must be the presidents PR agent surewas not areal sincre article about space a real disappointment always takes a complete liberal point of view no real facts

Anonymous said...

Constellation was doomed from the start. The earliest architecture meetings identified that budget, schedule, requirements, and rationale did not converge by a long shot. Everyone at NASA high up knew this, but were told by Bush Admin to charge the hill anyway. Now, like an unaffordable underwater mortgage, that day of reckonning has arrived.

jerry W said...

Quote: Neuharth The cold truth

The late President John F. Kennedy must have turned over in his grave. JFK launched the moon-landing program in the 1960s because he understood that any nation that wants to remain No. 1 on Earth must also be No. 1 in space.

We are now No. 2 behind Russia and soon may be No. 3 behind China. Even India and Brazil are developing ambitious space programs.

Obama’s proposal not only abandons our space shuttle, he also has no timetable or real plan for what he says ultimately will send humans to Mars. Obama doesn’t seem to care that soon we will have to hitchhike rides with the Russians just to get our astronauts to the International Space Station.

Unfortunately, some political and business leaders in Florida are buying the Obama plan because it may provide a few jobs for some of those thousands who will be unemployed here when the shuttle program ends.

JERRY W said...


Anonymous said...

Anonomyous 6:37 said: "ummm no.....Obama promised to continue his committment for support and funding for Constellation when he was campaigning in Florida....rememeber that you Bush bashers."

Sorry, Anon 6:37, you're the one who is wrong. Obama's entire speech is on youtube. He said he would support the "space program", not the "Constellation program". He has done exactly what he said by raising the NASA budget. He also said he would add one Shuttle flight after 2010 to help close the gap that was created when George W. Bush destroyed our Shuttle for no reason except that he was bored. I have many Republican friends, and regrettably not one of them raised a finger when Bush eliminated our jobs four years ago by trashing our Space Shuttle so badly that the program cannot be rebuilt, literally destroying the tools that are needed to keep it flying! Watch the youtube video and stop lying, Senator Haridopoulis, when you see that what you say is so not just false, but obviously and verifiably false! Haridopoulis has said over and over and over again that Obama cancelled the Shuttle program and that Obama created the gap that will force US astronauts to buy rides from Russia, when both were acts of Republican Bush. Watch the video!