Election 2008 Update 10 March 2008: This Does Not Sound Hopeful

Obama a little confused about today's state, The Swamp (Baltimore Sun)

"During the question-and-answer portion of an event at a recreational center here, Obama was asked about the nation's space program. "I grew up on Star Trek," Obama said. "I believe in the final frontier." But Obama said he does not agree with the way the space program is now being run and thinks funding should be trimmed until the mission is clearer. "NASA has lost focus and is no longer associated with inspiration," he said. "I don't think our kids are watching the space shuttle launches. It used to be a remarkable thing. It doesn't even pass for news anymore."

Do you have a comment? (please limit them to space policy and/or Obama's comments about space) Send them to nasawatch@spaceref.com. Your comments thus far:

Typical Obama. Says he grew up on Star Trek and the final frontier, but I guess he expects that to just happen for the human race without any effort or investment. The election of this guy spells disaster for NASA (and the country), at least the human spaceflight portion. The science folks will get their wish though, elimination of that costly and unproductive human spaceflight thing that sucks up all the money. I cannot believe that anyone could fall for the BS that this guys spews on a daily basis. He is the epitome of an "empty suit". Flashy, but no substance.

As for jackasses, NASA has plenty, but they tend to pool into middle and upper management. For every one of these idiots (and they're not all idiots, just an alarmingly increasing number), there are 20 hard-working, caring, intelligent, and energetic space enthusiasts that make this community of people something the country and the human race can be proud of. Anyone who says otherwise is bitter or ignorant. I put up with the jerks every day in my position and I often think they will ruin the place. But then I do something positive with some of the most excellent people you could ever meet, and my hope is restored. It is a roller coaster, but the thrill and excitement far outweighs the down side. It's too bad that ostriches like Obama will never know this because his head is buried in the sand.

The rant about there being "Far too many jackasses within NASA" reads like the writer's got a personal vendetta - it's not an observation about Obama's space policy (or lack thereof). I only wish the public could see the NASA people that I work with. They are professional, energetic, sharp, and real team players. I don't know anyone matching the description given. So, I guess I haven't met the writer, yet.

I guess one question I would have is how has Obama voted with respect to the NASA budget. Specifically, wasn't there a vote to endorse the VSE in 2005? How did he vote (if there was one)?


I have agree with Obama. There are far too many jackasses within NASA and the contractor community. There are far too many politicians masquerading as engineers. And far too many managers that only wish to build an empire for their own career and just waste tax dollars in the process.

If NASA was a computer I would suggest reformatting the hard drive. There needs to be a massive RIF to eliminate the politicians, megalomaniacs and 'fanboys'. We need only keep those that want to work together to expand humanity's presence and knowledge.

But there are too many people with an different agenda in agency that are in the way and they know who they are and they need to just go away.

Signed, A JSC employee

The distinguished junior Senator from Illinois is being poorly advised by folks who know little of Space, and less about his interests in presidential politics, to the detriment of both. Should we abandon healthcare or defense until we figure out how to do it right? And who decides what is right?

Much more importantly, space can and should be good presidential politics. By challenging the existing program for human space flight he puts thousand of families at risk in Florida and Ohio. He's running for President, damn it! Is there no one on his staff that understands ticking off thousands of families in Florida and Ohio is not good electoral college math? This is not a plan for change, its a plan for the "same old thing", another Democratic loss.

Space politics, if played well, will use presidential politics to obtain the needed funding from the administration and Congress to allow NASA to execute its mission as it should. It is clear the only one who 'gets it' is Hillary. Bring the race to Florida again so we can draw Senator Obama a more clear picture.

Regarding a diversion of NASA funds for pre-school education, I just checked the F7-09 budget allocation for the Dept. of Education: $59B!

That's equivalent to half the cost of the entire ISS project, or about 30 shuttle launches in one year!

Dear Mr. Obama, why isn't $59B enough?

This is the most frustrating candidate I have ever seen. Every time he opens his mouth on the issue he tries to put a new spin on Space to try to appease some voters, however the bottom line never changes - he plans the systematic cancellation of US manned space efforts.

He does not realize or care that this will effectively kill thousands of high tech jobs (perfect timing as the US heads into a recession). Forget about a delay of 5 years as people are not just going to sit around waiting for the manned space effort to pick up again. They will need to find jobs somewhere to support their families and for a second time in the past 40 years the ability to do great things in space will have been sacrificed and lost. This is just like when Apollo was cancelled. The ability to go to the moon was lost and still is as can be demonstrated by the VSE trying to formulate a new return to the moon. They have to relearn almost everything again (talk about a wasted effort and wasted resources).

And to top this off in my mind is the story on CNN today that projected the cost of the war in Iraq at $12 billion dollars per MONTH!... So every month and a half that goes by they spend more money in Iraq for What exactly - which equates to the YEARLY budget at NASA. Absolutely unbelievable to me.

This man is dangerous and short sighted to the point that if he gets his way, we can all forget about the manned space flight dream for the rest of our lifetimes. The next voice you hear from the Moon or Mars will require a translator for the US news media as it won't be done in English!

NASA has done such a great job with the money we've given them in the past, like with the "international" (don't say freedom) space station, so let's give them more money? What kind of idiot do you have to be to think that? When they can figure out a way to do a decent job with a little money THEN give them more. Anyone who is stupid enough to throw good money after bad deserves the screwing that NASA gives us on a regular basis. Would you go back to a barber and after they gave you a horrible haircut go back later and pay them twice as much figuring that a more expensive haircut would be better? Seriously, who is stupid enough to think like that?

I think that Obama is not trying to argue that we should abandon space science, space research, and space technology. He is trying to convince us that more thought is necessary before committing the taxpayer's money. Maintaining a human presence in space should never be an end in itself. By far, the most important thing is what we do once we get there. My own preference is to set aside the "Vision" in its present form, and use the funding for an aggressive program of space station utilization. I would like to see us create an International Space Station Science Institute, located at a University, following the model of the Space Telescope Science Institute. With our international partners, we ought to do the "zero g" scientific research and investigations that the taxpayers expected, and continue to expect. We never know where the research will ultimately lead, and that is the most important reason for doing it! The technical, medical, and political benefits to humanity could be enormous -- well beyond anything that we can envision at this point in our evolution. Let us give history the opportunity to capture just how many major scientific, medical, biological, pharmaceutical, and microbiological discoveries were made in the "free-fall" environment of our space station. We might learn that one space station is not enough to accommodate the volume of proposed research, and that building and utilizing additional space stations might be in the best interest of humanity. Something for Obama (and the rest of us) to think about.

I had heard about Obama's plan to delay the return to the moon plans for 5 years and use the money for pre-school education, and read his campaign statement about his position on spaceflight here on NASA Watch some time ago.

Not long after, Caroline Kennedy came out with her official endorsement of Obama for President. She appeared in a commercial where she stated that her father had inspired the country to do great things, the next shot being an American NASA Astronaut with the US Flag on the moon. The end of the commercial had the standard "I'm Barack Obama, and I approved this message."

JFK set the goal of the getting to the moon by the "end of the decade" deadline to reach the moon in May 1961. Five years later in May 1966 at the Kennedy Space Center, the VAB and Launch Complex 39 had been built and a test model Saturn V made its way from the VAB to Pad 39A.

I don't think that Mr. Obama realizes that his approval of that commercial demonstrated that he is just another hypocritical candidate who really doesn't have the vision to lead the country.

In the global economy that we live in, 5 years is an eternity - time the USA can't afford to waste.

Mr. Obama continually states in his speeches that he wants to keep American jobs from going overseas, but his policy of postponing Orion/Altair for 5 years is a de facto outsourcing of human spaceflight (and NASA and Aerospace Industry jobs) to Russia, Japan, China and India. These countries either currently have or are in the process of getting probes into lunar orbit, and have stated that they are planning manned missions.

Mr. Obama thinks that he can put the future on hold - and why I went out an made a specific effort to vote against him in the primary. This candidate's space policies are dangerous for the USA and the planet both near and short term. What really scares me is the fact that there may be a Clinton/Obama ticket - if Obama gets the Presidential nomination he can impose his foolish space policy, if he is the Vice-Presidential candidate he is no friend of NASA.

Obama's Plan for Manned Space is to withold funding for the program until his Administration can come up with a replacement for VSE? And this will keep us out of orbit how much longer than the five years we now face? Furthermore, if my count is right, this is his third attempt at a Space plan.

The first was to delay Orion & Constellation for 5 years,which would have put the date of the US re-entering manned Space at around 2020, all so he could divert Monet to his education initiatives. How's that for irony?

The second version was to fund Orion at a level that would get us back into orbit around 2015, same as we have under Bush's current paltry funding, and delay Constellation ad infinitum.

He's been fairly consistent in his dislike for funding manned Space exploration. In many ways, Senator Obama is Senator Mondale, but with more charisma and better tailored; that is, at least with respect to our manned program, voting for Obama is to vote to effectively kill the US manned program.

That's change, alright, but not the sort of change I want brought to upon our nation.

At least HRC wants to try to get the 2010-2015 gap between retiring the Shuttle and launching Orion down to 3-4 years. And McCain was the one whose Bill reorg'd NASA to get going on VSE--he has a strong Space record.

Thanks for keeping us up to date here Keith.

As far as manned space exploration is concerned, Barack Obama is the most dangerous Presidential candidate EVER: he is worse than Walter Mondale, William Proxmire and J. William Fulbright put together. Why? It's easy -- unlike those 3 gentlemen, who hated manned spaceflight and NASA in particular, Obama actually has a chance at getting elected. For those of you working in aerospace and the manned space program in particular -- Be afraid. Be VERY afraid...

I would like to respond to this quote as well as the Obama space position in general:

"Obama's space policy is confusing. He has said in the past he wants to cut NASA funding but also close the CEV/shuttle gap. He states that the funding he wants would be from delaying the moon/mars stuff. But, if you look at the exploration budget numbers, I don't think any real moon/mars stuff (Ares V, altair) really starts until what would be his second term."

No, Obama's space policy is not confusing at all, it is only confusing to his supporters (or as I call them, apologists) who want to believe that once he gets some advice and talks to the right people, he will make good decisions concerning space exploration and NASA. This is complete rubbish. We have statement, after statement after statement from Senator Obama saying over and over again that NASA is a waste of money, "the space shuttle mission did not inspire the imagination of the public", he will delay the moon and Mars exploration by 5 years to pay for education - and on and on and on. I could repost them all here, but I am sure the majority of them are still available on NASA Watch. Here is one though:

"We support replacing the shuttle and minimizing the gap. We also support delaying steps to take missions to the moon and Mars," Shapiro said. "One of the many ways we're paying for the education is delaying the mission to Mars."

People who were heartened by his claim that he will narrow the gap between Shuttle and CEV, should take pause and consider what he is saying. The Constellation Program is about going to the Moon and onward to Mars and Beyond. ISS was added as an appeasement really, but it is not part of the Design Reference Mission and is not supposed to drive any design decisions on Orion or Ares I. So to say there is confusion is not true. Even if he supports accelerating Orion for access to ISS (and that is a huge if), that is NOT supporting Contellation or any of its true goals. That really amounts to a plan to turn the Orion into another LEO vehicle to appease those who are worried about having to buy access to space from the Russians. That again is ASSUMING he is even informed enough to know that ISS was never the goal of Contellation - another thing I seriously doubt.

Also, the 2011 budget (which would be the second budget that an Obama Presidency would have control over) takes the Space Shuttle Program budget and gives it to Constellation, to ramp up the Altair and Ares V designs. By his plan, he would take ALL of the Constellation budget, except $500 million to use on his education policy. His words, not mine. That means he would be taking in the vacinity of $6 to $7 billion a year from Constellation, right when it was supposed to really have a decent budget for the first time. Of course, if he is even in the position to "be in his second term" I think at that point, it will be too late to wory about any Constellation at all, as he will have destroyed it by then.

So please people, stop saying that Obama is confusing or unclear on space policy. Stop making excuses and apologies for Obama's position on manned space exploration. He has been very clear in endless statements, even to the Houston Chronicle, that he thinks manned space exploration is a waste of time and money. If he couldn't even do enough research on Constellation, exploration and the VSE before talking to the Houston Chronicle of all papers, then it is obvious that he does not care about space exploation or NASA and his policies would reflect that if elected. Maybe McCain and Clinton haven't given us detailed plans for their space policy, but both have been very supportive of manned exploration, both have Congressional records that reflect that, neither of them has said a negative thing about space, neither of them has repeateldy dumped on space exploration and neither of them has said they are going to decimate NASAs manned exploration budget to pay for one of their pet plans.

What probably offends me the most about Obama and his views of space, is how he constantly makes disapraging remarks about it, but then will talk about Kennedy's dream that a man would walk on the moon. He says awful things about space to the Houston Chronicle, but then the very next day has the AUDACITY (his word) to open his rally speech in Houston with the words "Houston, we have lift off!"

"... and thinks funding should be trimmed until the mission is clearer...."

Is this somehow related to the old chestnut "The beatings will continue until morale improves!"?

Though I have typically voted Republican over my lifetime, I will say that Obama is a great speaker. However, as eloquent as his words may sound at times, a closer examination of some of the things he has said reveals, in my opinion, a level of ignorance or perhaps a lack of thought about aerospace issues. This is a critical deficiency given the importance of the aerospace industry to American prosperity.

Now, he may disagree with the Vision for Space Exploration, but it was the adoption of that thorough and sensible mission statement that *finally*gave* NASA a stated focus that it had been lacking for decades. So, his statement that NASA has lost focus seems oddly uninformed, to me. Also, space shuttle launches are no less remarkable now than they were years ago, but young people have grown up in a world where there was always a space shuttle. It's a given to them. Now that the space station is in the final stages of completion, we are moving forward to implement the Vision. Obama has suggested that until the NASA mission is clearer, funding should be trimmed. It doesn't have to be told to most people what the effects of that would be. If the mission isn't clear enough to Obama, he should do some reading, or ask his fellow Congressional representatives who are trying to get NASA funding increased to accomplish all that they have on their plate.

Obama claims he intends to pursue educational initiatives, particularly in the area of science, and math. I know for a fact that there are plenty of young people out there who have been inspired to pursue math and science solely because of the space shuttle program, and other NASA activities. I have interviewed some of them over the past few years for a publication, and have worked with some of them as they have written about their motivations for pursuing math and science.

So, Obama's lack of knowledge about space issues is troubling to me on a number of fronts.

Obama's space policy is confusing. He has said in the past he wants to cut NASA funding but also close the CEV/shuttle gap. He states that the funding he wants would be from delaying the moon/mars stuff. But, if you look at the exploration budget numbers, I don't think any real moon/mars stuff (Ares V, altair) really starts until what would be his second term.

I understand that space policy is a secondary issue. But, I do wish Obama would come out with a concise statement to clarify his comments. They are not clear to anyone familiar with NASA.

Great job on the election coverage. It is good to see you trying to make this is an issue. Hopefully there will be a Florida revote. That could bring NASA front and center.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on March 10, 2008 1:24 PM.

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