Transcript of interview with President Bush, Star Telegram
"And so my first purpose on the NASA issue was to develop a mission that would excite the scientists, the employees, and the Congress. That has been accomplished."
Editor's note: And as far as what the remaining 99.99% of the population wants ... ? Oh yes, the rocket is named "Ares".
"Q: Can I ask about a parochial Houston subject -- NASA?
THE PRESIDENT: Sure.
Q: Over the last eight years, they've had to make some decisions on priorities and spending. I was wondering how you assess how well NASA has done during your presidency and what do you think lies ahead for space exploration, and particularly manned space exploration.
THE PRESIDENT: I was very concerned about the dwindling enthusiasm for NASA when I first got here. And the reason why -- and so we did a whole study of NASA and its future, and it became apparent to me that the space shuttle was losing its glamour and, frankly, people weren't convinced of its necessity. And the space station was important, but it just didn't have -- the mission itself didn't capture a lot of folks -- the imagination of a lot of folks in Congress.
And so we changed the mission, as you know, of NASA. We said we're going to stop flying the shuttle in 2010 and develop a Orion rocket or Orion launching vehicle to go to the moon, to get back to lunar exploration. And the purpose there is to eventually settle in and develop enough facility in the Moon to then be able to go beyond.
And so my first purpose on the NASA issue was to develop a mission that would excite the scientists, the employees, and the Congress. That has been accomplished. I know there is a gap that concerns people, and that would be the gap between the last shuttle and the beginning of the new Orion rocket program. Nevertheless, I do think it's -- the mission has to be very relevant. And so I've been a believer in NASA and space exploration since I've been the President, and I'm excited about the new mission."