Recently in Election 2008 Category

Mitt Romney: Lost in Space ..., opinion, Jim Kohlenberger (former Obama OSTP official), Space News

"In 2008, the U.S. Government Accountability Office had identified poor planning around the looming space shuttle retirement and its follow-on program as one of 13 "urgent issues" that any new president would have to confront when they came into office in 2009. Because of years of mismatch between vision and resources, the independent Augustine commission found that the Constellation program was not viable under any feasible budget scenario. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle agreed. Rather than walking away, President Obama knew we had to do better and laid out an ambitious new agenda of human and scientific missions that promise to take NASA and America's space program to historic new heights."

... Or Ready to Restore Lost U.S. Leadership in Space?, Opinion, Scott Pace and Eric Anderson, Space News

"Unfortunately, American leadership is in jeopardy. Today we have a space program befitting a president who rejects American exceptionalism, apologizes for America and believes we should be just another nation with a flag. President Barack Obama has put us on a path that cedes our global position as the unequivocal leader in space. For the first time since the dawn of the Space Age, America has chosen to forgo its own capabilities for putting astronauts into space and instead relies on the Russians. The space shuttle's planned retirement was known on the day President Obama took office, yet the earliest that Americans will again ride American rockets into space is 2016."

Keith's note: What a pair of memory-challenged hypocrites.

Its rather odd that Space Adventures CEO Anderson would be party to such comments. in April 2010, when he was Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, Anderson is quoted as saying the following about the Obama Administration's space policy: "This visionary plan is a master stroke. It's exactly what NASA needs in order to continue to lead the world in space exploration in the 21st century." In May 2012, on the occasion of the first launch of the SpaceX Dragon, CSF Chairman Anderson is again quoted, saying "This is a testament to the viability of the commercial spaceflight industry ... Congratulations to SpaceX for successfully completing the first steps of this demonstration flight. Elon and his team's success today is an important milestone in achieving a sustainable space program."

That's quite a reversal in opinion for Mr. Anderson given what he is quoted as having said before. Curiously CSF hasn't changed their stance and Anderson continues to serve on their board.

Its also rather curious that Anderson would be against flying American astronauts (for a fee) on board Russian Soyuz spacecraft and also a plan whereby American commercial vendors (such as SpaceX) would be used to fly cargo and eventually future American crews to the ISS given that Anderson's company has been taking money from rich Americans to buy seats on the very same Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the ISS. Indeed each sale his company facilitates results in a large check being written to Russian companies. How is that helping the U.S. commercial launch sector? - especially when Gov. Romney has already identified Russia as being "without question our number one geopolitical foe."

Scott Pace's comments evidence total amnesia on his part. Regardless of whether you think it was a good or bad idea, the plan to retire the Space Shuttle and rely upon Russia to transport Americans to the ISS for a number of years was put in place by the Bush Administration - not the Obama Administration. After working in the Bush White House to develop that policy, Scott Pace spent 4 years with Mike Griffin at NASA during the Bush Administration implementing this policy. FYI I am told this phenomenon has become known as "Romnesia"

Pace and Anderson lament a gap between Shuttle retirement and first possible U.S. access to space in 2016 yet that date was already accepted as fact for Orion/Constellation while Pace and Mike Griffin were still running NASA. Indeed 2018 was cited as a more realistic estimate. As for the commercial access to space being pursued by SpaceX and others, Mike Griffin (one would assume with Scott Pace's agreement) signed a number of agreements with private companies to bolster their involvement with NAS A including this one with SpaceX and Orbital in 2008.

In other words Scott Pace and Eric Anderson were most certainly for the things that the Obama Administration has been doing - before they were against them.

- Double Standards and Sour Grapes From the Romney/Griffin Camp, Earlier Post

- The Romney Campaign has a Space Policy Etch-A-Sketch, Earlier Post

Reader note: A few days ago I again saw the "Step Forward" commercial that was run a lot after Obama was elected with its notable quote "Where's my moon" on TV. The commercial indicates we are to go to I did so in hopes of obtaining some inspiration. I wound up at I could only laugh! Try it for yourself.

Obama's budget reshapes the U.S. space agenda,

"This change of plans clearly breaks Obama's promise to "endorse the goal of sending human missions to the Moon by 2020, as a precursor in an orderly progression to missions to more distant destinations, including Mars." But the president's budget for NASA does keep five other campaign promises. It proposes working with international allies to extend the life of the International Space Station at least through 2020; it supports access to space for private-sector companies; it supports increased investment in research and development related to space; it supports increased spending to prepare for longer space missions; and it establishes school programs to highlight space and science achievements."

Election 2008 postings

Barack Obama Campaign Promise No. 345: Enhance earth mapping,

"In its Fiscal Year 2010 proposed budget, the Obama administration sought $120.6 million for LDCM through NASA accounts and $40.2 million through USGS accounts. Between July 14, 2009, and July 17, 2009, a preliminary design review was held in Linthicum, Md. NASA described the event as "successful" -- an early milestone for the program. LDCM won't be ready to launch for a few years, but the promise here was simply to "support" the program. The Obama administration has done that seeking funding for it. We consider it a Promise Kept."

Use the private sector to improve spaceflight: No action

Support human mission to moon by 2020: No action

Promises about Space on the Obameter,

Oiling the Wheels

Frank's Note: Check out this report on federal campaign contributions for last year's campaign cycle at Open Secrets

Honeywell lead the defense/aerospace sector with a total contributions of $2.5 million. Lockheed was right behind at $1.6 million and Boeing in third place at $1.3 million. Interestingly enough, their contributions were almost evenly divided between Dems and the GOP, with Dems slightly ahead in the dollars donated. Of course, from the perspective of the aerospace giants, this just makes good (political) sense. But how do readers think change will come about if the status quo is so well represented?

Local Elections

Olson wins, reclaiming House seat for GOP, Houston Chronicle

"Republican Pete Olson is celebrating his success returning a heavily Republican, suburban Houston congressional district to GOP control. Olson ousted Democratic Rep. Nick Lampson in Tuesday's election."

Democrats Kosmas, Grayson defeat GOP veterans Keller, Feeney, Orlando Sentinel

"I got licked," Feeney said in a short concession speech to supporters, some of whom were in tears. "There are differences between me and Kosmas, but I wish her well."

Democrat takes seat vacated by Cramer, Huntsville Times

"After one of the most contentious congressional races in recent history, the 5th Congressional District has a new U.S. representative in Parker Griffith."

IFPTE on Election 2008

IFPTE Letter to Members on Election 2008 Issues

"It is has been a hard 8 years for NASA. President Bush's initial mistake was to downsize, outsource, and undermine the technical independence of NASA's civil-servant workforce. The Republican plan was to eliminate about a fifth of its independent in-house experts and most civil-service protections. This nave ideology, that federal laboratories such as NASA should be run like a private business with the cold, untechnical perspective of a bean-counter, tragically contributed to the Columbia disaster and led to the subsequent hurried and flawed planning for President Bush's Vision for Space Exploration."

Obama Space Policy News

Astronaut Rusty Schweikart, Obamanauts To Launch Weekend Canvassing, GOTV Efforts

"On Saturday, November 1, former Apollo crew member Rusty Schweickart will launch final canvassing and Get Out the Vote efforts for the Obama-Biden campaign. Schweikart will then join the Obamanauts - Space Coast residents who support Barack Obama - along with hundreds of volunteers from every corner of the state to knock on doors this weekend to personally contact thousands of voters before Election Day and encourage them to take advantage of the last days of early voting."

Diamandis editorial supports Obama Space Policy

"Responding largely to concerns voiced by Florida's voters, Senator Obama has offered an unambiguous pledge to right-size NASA's budget. But his space policy is not devoted solely to NASA; it points to an Obama Administration's support for space commercialization, space workforce retention, space research and technology development, national security space programs, space-based environmental monitoring, and using space to inspire our nation's youth to excel in math and science."

Previous McCain and Obama Election posts

Remarks by John McCain in Miami, FL (29 Oct 2008)

"I will freeze government spending on all but the most important programs like defense, veterans care, NASA, Social Security and health care until we scrub every single government program and get rid of the ones that aren't working for the American people. And I will veto every single pork barrel bill Congresses passes."

He Did It Again: In Ormond Beach, McCain Pledges Spending Freeze with No Exception for NASA

"Days after attempting to clarify his ever-changing position on space funding, John McCain returned to the region this morning and reinstituted his call for a spending freeze - without an exception for NASA. Speaking in Ormond Beach, McCain promised to freeze spending on "all but the most important programs like defense, veterans care, social security and health care," pledging to "veto every single pork barrel earmark." Notably absent was any exception for space funding, muddying a position McCain tried to clear up last week."

Previous McCain and Obama Election posts

Inspired kids will reach for stars under Obama, Sally Ride, Orlando Sentinel

"Somewhere in America today, there's a 10-year-old girl who could be the first person to walk on Mars. She's probably playing with a toy chemistry set or a kid's telescope right now, gazing up at the heavens and dreaming big dreams. I know a lot about that girl because in 1961, during the inspirational early days of our space program, that was me. The world that girl will enter, and in particular the state of our space and science industries, is different for her than it was for me. In some ways, she has greater opportunities. While still unacceptably behind men, women have more avenues to becoming scientists today than they did when I answered a call in a newspaper ad to become an astronaut. In other ways, our space program has lost the national stature it had when I was growing up. In both regards, though, we can and must do better."

Editor's note: We all know by now that Mike Griffin prefers to call himself "Spock" (audio). But who does the REAL Spock (Leonard Nimoy) prefer in election 2008? Listen to this excerpt from a recent appearance by Nimoy and you will hear about an encounter between Barack Obama and Nimoy a while back - and yes, Obama does the Vulcan salute. Hmmm ... does this have any bearing upon space policy under a possible Obama administration?

Video below

Biden on Space Policy

Senator Biden on Reinvigorating our Space Program

"When John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to go to the moon, he noted that the space industry not only demanded the best minds, it also created the best jobs. Ladies and gentlemen, the objective was not just to go to the moon. But it was to get another 435,000 engineers and scientists and mathematicians. When the Shuttle is retired, NASA estimates that 3,500 jobs could be lost - and that doesn't count the impact on local businesses or the long-term cost of allowing our global leadership to atrophy. The Bush Administration has left our space program in a very difficult position. And John McCain, as Chairman of the Commerce Committee hasn't helped. He oversaw the plan to retire the Space Shuttle before a replacement was ready."

He Did It Again: In Ormond Beach, McCain Pledges Spending Freeze with No Exception for NASA

"Days after attempting to clarify his ever-changing position on space funding, John McCain returned to the region this morning and reinstituted his call for a spending freeze - without an exception for NASA. Speaking in Ormond Beach, McCain promised to freeze spending on "all but the most important programs like defense, veterans care, social security and health care," pledging to "veto every single pork barrel earmark." Notably absent was any exception for space funding, muddying a position McCain tried to clear up last week."

Previous McCain and Obama Election posts

Editor's note: I wrote this about a month ago.

A Speech on Space Exploration by President XXXXXXX

Delivered XX, XXXXX 2009

Last Fall we celebrated NASA's 50th anniversary. When you celebrate such events you always look back - and look forward. NASA is made of people - and people pause and reflect. NASA is no different.

As we look back at NASA's history we see stunning accomplishments, difficult challenges, heartbreaks, roaring resurgence, and continued exploration. Yet as with any human endeavor, reaching age 50 calls for some introspection and some re-prioritization.

In 2004 NASA was given an opportunity it had not had for a generation - a new commitment to the human exploration of other worlds. This happened barely a year after the agency suffered the tragic loss of Columbia and her crew. The President of the United States of America came to NASA to give the agency its new "vision". With a renewed commitment to explore, NASA set forth to develop the plans and hardware needed to implement this new era of human exploration.

However, within a short time, NASA fell back on bad habits. Discarding the wisdom of the marketplace and a bounty of external ideas, it discarded this advice, and picked an architecture that relied upon re-designing existing hardware under the guise of reusing it. And there was no back up plan in case things did not work out. All too soon, things did not work out and America's replacement for the Space Shuttle's crew carrying capability slipped further into the future. The gap between the retirement of the Space Shuttle and its replacement grew when the wisest course would have been to shrink it - indeed, to eliminate it.

Statement from Barack Obama on India's Lunar Launch

"As a child, I remember sitting on my grandfather's shoulders and watching the Apollo astronauts return from a splashdown to Hickam Air Force Base, dreaming of where they had been. It inspired my imagination and gave me confidence in what we as Americans could achieve. It's time for a space program that inspires our children again. As President, I will lead our space program boldly into the 21st Century - so when my daughters, and all our children, look up to the skies, they see Americans leading the way into the deepest reaches of our solar system."

Previous McCain and Obama Election posts

Obama Hits McCain On Health Care, NASA, National Journal

"Obama also released a radio spot in Florida Thursday accusing McCain of wanting to cut NASA funding, an argument that turns on McCain's proposal to enact a spending freeze to close the budget deficit. McCain "wants to freeze NASA spending at last year's level," says Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., in the ad. "So layoffs would loom larger, and NASA would continue to be starved of funds for future exploration."

McCain Promises $2 Billion to Help NASA, WS Journal

"Sen. John McCain came to the space coast today and promised $2 billion to help NASA transition from the space shuttle to a new space vehicle. "I've always been a strong supporter of manned space flight and NASA," he said in a community that is home to many in the field. "If I'm elected president I won't cut NASA funds like Sen. Obama." McCain aides noted that Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, had promised to pay for education programs by delaying the Constellation space program, which is meant to fill the gap to the next space vehicle, only to backtrack later."

John McCain campaigns in Melbourne, seeks Space Coast votes, Orlando Sentinel

"The Obama campaign immediately seized on what it said was a change in McCain's space stance. "One day it's a spending freeze; the next day it's not; but whatever his stance is, Space Coast voters are looking for a change from the Bush-McCain policies that brought us to the brink of thousands of job losses," Obama spokeswoman Adrianne Marsh said."

Nelson Vs McCain Over NASA

CQ Transcripts: Obama and McCain Advisers Hold Teleconferences on Healthcare Plans, CQ Politics

"Sen. Nelson: Well, as we speak, John McCain has left Miami and he's en route to my home town of Melbourne. And the fact that he's going to Brevard County is an indication that he is quite concerned that Barack has really sliced in to that traditionally Republican area, because Barack has a very detailed proposal on America's space program, and John McCain has had a proposal, as he said two nights ago in the debate, of a freeze at last year's levels across the board.

And, of course, if they do that with NASA, it will absolutely continue to savage NASA, as George Bush's administration has done, that's leading us at the space center, when they shut down the space shuttle, to 4,000 to 5,000 jobs laying off because they have not developed the new rocket to replace the space shuttle, and we're going to be beholden to the Russians to get to the very space station that we built and paid for, and -- and -- and without an American vehicle for five to six years.

Barack has addressed this. And I submit to you that that's exactly why McCain is going to Brevard County, which went heavily for George Bush over John Kerry , and he's going in there because he knows that -- that Barack has -- has absolutely pierced those Republican engineers who are so concerned about America's space program."

Obama Touts Connection to Space Program in New National Ad (with video)

"Barack Obama launched a new national television ad today that prominently features Apollo Astronauts as Obama recounts how they inspired his early days. In the 60-second ad entitled "Buster," Obama speaks directly to the camera about the lessons he learned from the early space program and what it taught him about America. The ad is the first by either presidential candidate to highlight the space program. Obama has pledged to increase NASA funding to save Florida jobs and maintain America's leadership in space. Senator McCain has pledged to freeze discretionary spending in his first year, which would negatively impact the space program."

Biden Discusses Economy, Obama During Local 6 Interview,

"Number two, look what John wants to do with the space program. He wants to essentially put it on ice. I think it is clear, Florida is hurting."

Reader note: "I hope you will write a post on this tidbit of ludditery from McCain at tonight's Presidential debate. Senator McCain said Sen. Obama supported a congressional earmark of "$3 million for an overhead projector at a planetarium in Chicago, Ill. My friends, do we need to spend that kind of money?" The Adler Planetarium to which Sen. McCain refers is one of our key education and public outreach partners for many NASA projects. Sen. McCain's criticism of the heart of the Adler Planetarium is anti-science, threatening to kill off one of the best ways we have to communicate the scientific results of a NASA mission to the public. The suggestion that this is somehow just an overpriced tranparency projector is disengenous at best."

Obama Announces FY08 Federal Funding Requests

"Adler Planetarium, to support replacement of its projector and related equipment, $3,000,000 - One of its most popular attractions and teaching tools at the Adler Planetarium is the Sky Theater. The projection equipment in this theater is 40 years old, and is no longer supported with parts or service by the manufacturer. It has begun to fail, leaving the theater dark and groups of school students and other interested museum-goers without this very valuable and exciting learning experience."

Union Event at KSC

Wednesday Obama Campaign Press Conference: Just Laid Off From Their Space Industry Jobs, Workers To Respond to GOP's Anti-NASA Stance

"WEDNESDAY, October 8, engineers and other space industry workers will hold a press conference to denounce Senator John McCain's plan to freeze NASA spending and his Republican Party's attack on the space program. The Republicans' criticism of Senator Barack Obama's $2 billion plan to save space industry jobs comes as NASA Administrator and Republican appointee Dr. Michael Griffin thanked Senator Obama personally for his "leadership" in getting critical legislation passed to help maintain an American presence in space. Griffin wrote to Obama: "without your leadership, this would not have happened."

Obama Gets a Thank You from NASA, NY Times

"NASA confirmed that Dr. Griffin sent the note, which first appeared on the website, but added that he sent similar letters to other members of Congress. ... With the economy tipping precariously, was Dr. Griffin trying to ensure that at least one employee of the space agency would remain in his job in January? It does not sound like the Griffin style, frankly -- he is an engineer, not a Washington schmoozer, and when asked to describe his feelings early in his tenure, replied, ""I don't do feelings. Just think of me as Spock"

Click on image to enlarge

Obama Spend-O-Meter, Republican National Committee

"Obama Has Proposed $2 Billion In Additional NASA Funding. "Sen. Barack Obama has detailed a comprehensive space plan that includes $2 billion in new funding to reinvigorate NASA and a promise to make space exploration and science a significantly higher priority if he is elected president." (Marc Kaufman, "Obama Suggests $2 Billion In New Funding For NASA," The Washington Post, 8/19/08)"

John McCain: America's Space Program

"As President, John McCain will - Ensure that space exploration is top priority and that the U.S. remains a leader; - Commit to funding the NASA Constellation program to ensure it has the resources it needs to begin a new era of human space exploration. - Review and explore all options to ensure U.S. access to space by minimizing the gap between the termination of the Space Shuttle and the availability of its replacement vehicle; ..."

Editor's note: The Washington post article that the RNC quotes also says "While Obama's ambitious plan embraces President Bush's 2004 "vision" to send astronauts to the moon by 2020 and later to Mars -- a plan McCain co-sponsored in the Senate -- the Democratic presidential candidate said the administration's "poor planning and inadequate funding" have undermined the effort and jeopardized U.S. leadership in space."

I am not certain how McCain can accomplish what he has proposed - which seems to be more or less what Obama has proposed - unless he either increases NASA's budget or cuts something rather dramatically to pay for what he wants to see NASA do. That said, McCain does have a strong stance in support of NASA. As such, the RNC snipe at Obama for holding a similar stance to McCain's is curious. Perhaps the RNC did not check with the McCain folks ...

Nelson hits RNC on NASA stance, Orlando Sentinel

"Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida said the Republican National Committee "just stepped in it" when they blasted Barack Obama for his promise to give NASA $2 billion more in funding. "It's not only ridiculous, it shows how totally out of it they are," said Nelson, who said extra NASA funding helps grow jobs in Florida, home to the Kennedy Space Center and a key swing state in the upcoming presidential election. "They simply don't know what they are talking about."

Editor's note: Former NASA PAO flack Patti Phillips is clearly losing it over at the Washington Examiner. She uses a post about Obama and space policy to launch off on a bizzare path that ends with Nazis. Sure, Patti's over the top rant at Obama is just that. But the link to a video she includes - a video that overtly uses Nazi symbology and swastikas in comparison to the campaign banners used by the Obama campaign and overlays films of Hitler youth with audio of children signing an Obama campaign song - is just plain obscene and has no place in civilized discussion. She introduces the video by saying "You decide if the Obama truth squads, youth squads, and hype are bringing some horrific history back to life. Here's a provocative YouTube video that wraps up some current issues." What was this woman thinking?

Editor's update: This just appeared online at the Examiner: "Note: at the request of an Examiner editor, who had concerns about the harshness of the comments posted in response, the video has been removed." "Harshness"? The YouTube video "Obama Youth Revolution - Sing For Socialism" that Patti Phillips thought was appropriate is outright racist. Patti did not have the common morals to see that this video was outright inappropropriate - but her editor did. This is what the page looked like before. Note that the title "Obama builds up the rubber in his space flip flops, truth squads, and kid allegiance squads" is now simply "Obama builds up the rubber in his space flip flops". Look at the URL for the story "". Also, removed are the allusions to Hitlerian tactics, the video, and outraged reader comments. Let's just pretend that this never happend, eh Patti? I wonder what Patti will come up with next as she tries to link space policy to an ever-increasing array of partisan and bizzare topics.

Obama on World Space Week

Sen. Obama Issues Statement on World Space Week

"Senator Barack Obama issued the following statement today on World Space Week and the 50th Anniversary of the inception of NASA: "This week, we join more than 50 nations around the world in celebrating World Space Week. And this year, as we mark the 50th anniversary of NASA, our space program is at a crossroads. As other countries are moving forward in space, my opponent's vision would cause us to fall unacceptably behind. His pledge to freeze all discretionary spending for programs other than veterans and defense would assure the loss of thousands of jobs in Florida, and seriously threaten America's leadership in space. I have a different vision. My plan to revitalize our space program will reduce the gap between the Space Shuttle's retirement and its next-generation replacement; and we'll increase funding for a robust human space exploration program and research that pushes the very boundaries of discovery."

President Clinton Reinforces Senator Obama's Plans to Preserve and Reinvigorate Space Program, earlier post

President Clinton Reinforces Senator Obama's Plans to Preserve and Reinvigorate Space Program

"ORLANDO - TODAY, speaking in Orlando and Fort Pierce, President Bill Clinton spoke to Floridians about reasons a Barack Obama and Joe Biden administration would benefit Americans. The former President strongly supported Obama's policies on the economy, energy independence and health care. Possibly the most salient of issues for Floridians was the former President's support of Barack Obama's vision for a robust space program. "He has a plan to support the space industry, which I think is important not just to Florida but to America. This is a very big deal," said Clinton during his speech in Orlando. "We have a vested interest in staying on the frontiers of technological change and many of the answers to our environmental and other challenges will be found by continuing the push into space."

The President of Free Space, Part 3: Hope or Fear, Discovery News

"Silly me. When I embarked on this freelance journalism project to chase down strings of rationality in the race for the U.S. presidency, using the space program as my fishing reel, I made a bad assumption. I thought rationality MATTERED to all people. You know? Fact-gathering, logical reasoning, analysis, verification the processes of science? Please stop chuckling. I know I should have known better. So forget about the LOGICAL thing to do for NASA, let alone the country. I've realized what counts most in our society is a good story. We love drama. If it was our gross domestic product, we'd have so much money Sarah Palin would be writing us checks from the Treasury, just like they do with oil revenue in Alaska."

Presidential space debate closed to public, Orlando Sentinel

"The meeting is closed, definitely closed, and that is not going to change," said Alexis Allen, a spokeswoman for Aerospace Industries Association, a trade industry group. "I think there has been a lot of public debate and not every forum has to be a public event."

Editor's note: What is the AIA afraid of? An informed electorate?

Report offers advice to McCain, Obama on science and technology appointments, National Academy of Sciences

"The report recommends that the president and Senate accelerate the appointment process for S&T leadership to reduce the personal and financial burdens on nominees and to allow important positions to be filled swiftly. Congress and the Office of Government Ethics should simplify procedures aimed at avoiding conflicts of interest in appointees, which have become unduly complex over the years. And scientific and professional societies should more actively reach out to the president's science adviser and other senior administration leaders to provide input that broadens the pool of candidates for appointments."

McCain and Obama on Science

McCain, Obama Weigh in on Science

"Entering the debate on several contentious science issues, John McCain today answered the "14 top science questions facing America," according to, the group leading an effort to make science issues a larger part of the election. His answers join those of Barack Obama, who answered the same questions two weeks ago. Recent national polls have shown that 85% of voters would like the see the candidates debate these challenges, and the majority of voters are much more likely to vote for a candidate that has a plan for tackling these issues."

President of Free Space

The President of Free Space, Part 1, Free Space

"Rational thought, the foundation of science, the reason why there are rovers scratching the sand on Mars today, has been largely absent from the American political scene, and perhaps the American way of life for a long time now. Institutions created to solve specific problems, became incarnated (think FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great Society) and never went away. That's what NASA is fighting now. Its leaders know the agency needs to dematerialize, shed its expensive and deadly shuttle program, and return to its core roots of space exploration."

Editor's note: And yet despite the occasional, rational reasons for mentioning space in this election, space is getting some play for other reasons: its iconic, inspirational aspects. Hillary Clinton went down the visceral, emotional path when she mentioned the number of female astronauts NASA now has as an indication of how far women had come in our society. And a pre-speech film about Barack Obama showed Apollo footage as he spoke about seeing Apollo astronauts returning home - and his grandfather's suggestion that if Americans can do this - they can do anything.

Alas, despite Obama's grandfather's statement, it is apparently going to take longer for NASA to send humans back to the Moon than it did the first time - and the rocket science seems to be harder this time than it was the first time around.

McCain asks Bush to tell NASA not to dismantle shuttle infrastructure, Orlando Sentinel

"Sen. John McCain -- joined by Republican colleagues Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and David Vitter of New Orleans -- sent a letter to President Bush this week, saying that in light of tensions with Russia, the White House should tell NASA to stop any further dismantling of the shuttle infrastructure for at least a year to keep open the possibility of more shuttle flights beyond 2010."

Full text of letter

Campaign Update

McCain, Obama compete to be seen as friend of NASA, Houston Chronicle

Obama Suggests $2 Billion In New Funding for NASA, Washington post

"Sen. Barack Obama has detailed a comprehensive space plan that includes $2 billion in new funding to reinvigorate NASA and a promise to make space exploration and science a significantly higher priority if he is elected president.

Campaigning in Florida yesterday, Sen. John McCain responded by telling business leaders that Obama has changed his position on some key questions of NASA funding in recent months and should not be trusted to support the program."

In Florida, McCain jabs Obama on NASA funding, Christian Science Monitor

"I know that earlier this year, Senator Obama proposed cutting the NASA budget and delaying the timetable for our return to the Moon and the Mars mission," McCain said. "I believe that he later repudiated his own plan. Sometimes it is difficult to know what a politician will actually do once in office, because they say different things at different times to different people. This is a particular problem when a candidate has a short, thin record on the issues as in the case of Senator Obama."

McCain says he's the one to keep US in space, Reuters

"On a visit to Florida's Space Coast, home to the NASA complex at Cape Canaveral, the Arizona Republican said as U.S. president, he would make space exploration a top priority and ensure that the United States retains its leadership role."

Barack Obama: Advancing the Frontiers of Space Exploration
Earlier Election 2008 postings

Florida Democratic Party: Straight Talk On McCain's Failed NASA Record

"While John McCain is visiting Titusville today, holding a closed door meeting to talk about NASA issues, the Florida Democratic Party thought Floridians might appreciate some Straight Talk about John McCain's failed record on space issues. "How can the Space Coast trust John McCain when he has failed us so many other times? In the Senate, Chairman McCain was the one man that could have stood up to prevent the space flight gap and save thousands of Space Coast jobs, however, as is the case with so many other issues, McCain instead stood with President Bush. And to add insult to injury, McCain fought against NASA funding calling it pork barrel spending," said Eric Jotkoff, Florida Democratic Party spokesman."

McCain Space Policy Paper, earlier post
Earlier Election 2008 postings

Obama vows to find $2bn for NASA, Orlando Sentinel

"But until Sunday, the democratic policy, while clearly ambitious, was lacking in details of how much an Obama administration would give to NASA, and where the funds to try to speed up development of a successor rocket to the space shuttle were going to come from. According to Nelson, the Obama campaign has pledged to find $2 billion for NASA by clawing back pork barrel earmarks, such as, Nelson said, "a highway in Alaska to nowhere."

Evolving Obama now supports $2 billion more for NASA, Houston Chronicle

"The most important change in Obama's past positions is that he now favors at least one additional space shuttle mission before it is retired. Nelson said Obama's staff assured him that the presidential candidate now favors the congressional plan to add $2 billion to NASA's budget."

Barack Obama: Advancing the Frontiers of Space Exploration
McCain Space Policy Paper, earlier post
Earlier Election 2008 postings

Obama favors fast track for new space ferry, St. Petersburg Times

"... These details are included in a seven-page policy statement the campaign is expected to formally release today. John McCain has previously said he supports the moon-and-Mars exploration strategy, and that he, too, will work to minimize the number of years in which NASA has no way to send astronauts into space."

Obama: Let's go to moon, and maybe Mars, Orlando Sentinel

"The policy puts new pressure on McCain ahead of his private meeting with space-industry leaders. McCain's low-key visit to the Space Coast comes more than two weeks after Obama held a town-hall meeting in Titusville where he pledged his support to a robust space policy and said he would no longer seek to raid NASA's budget to support his education-reform plans. McCain, on the other hand, has been quiet about his space policy beyond endorsing sending Americans to the moon. He recently released his own enhanced position on the issue on his Web site without any fanfare."

McCain Space Policy Paper, earlier post

Earlier Election 2008 postings

Barack Obama: Advancing the Frontiers of Space Exploration

"When I was growing up, NASA united Americans to a common purpose and inspired the world with accomplishments we are still proud of. Today, NASA is an organization that impacts many facets of American life. I believe NASA needs an inspirational vision for the 21st Century. My vision will build on the great goals set forth in recent years, to maintain a robust program of human space exploration and ensure the fulfillment of NASA's mission. Together, we can ensure that NASA again reflects all that is best about our country and continue our nation's preeminence in space." ...

... "Human spaceflight is important to America's political, economic, technological, and scientific leadership. Barack Obama will support renewed human exploration beyond low earth orbit. He endorses the goal of sending human missions to the Moon by 2020, as a precursor in an orderly progression to missions to more distant destinations, including Mars."

McCain Space Policy Paper, earlier post

Earlier Election 2008 postings

Election Debate on Space

Initial thoughts from the Mars Society debate, The Space Review

"There was a sharp contrast between Garver and Cunningham. Garver has been working space policy issues for a long time, and recently has been working with the Obama campaign (she noted that she has had the opportunity to talk with Obama several times, including recently). Cunningham, on the other hand, does not appear to have an active role in the McCain campaign, at least on space issues; he mentioned that after he was invited to participate he had to read up on what both campaigns had said on the issue. Or, as he put it, "I don't talk to the senator. He calls me." This made it difficult at times to separate what Cunningham was saying on behalf of the campaign and what were his own opinions."

McCain Space Policy Paper

John McCain: America's Space Program

"Current U.S. space operations policy commits the U.S. to completing the International Space Station (ISS) by 2010 and then terminating the Space Shuttle flights, with the completion of the ISS. The NASA vision for space exploration calls for sending a robotic lunar lander to the Moon in 2008/2009 time period to begin searching for potential base sites and for development and deployment of a new manned space craft for lunar missions. The current policy also calls for new vehicles (referred to as the Orion crew vehicle and the Ares launch vehicle) to be ready for Earth orbit by 2015 and lunar landing by 2020 with an eventual mission to Mars. As President, John McCain will ... "

Election 2008 News

Editor's note: I am curious about this line: "a robotic lunar lander to the Moon in 2008/2009 time period" I wonder what NASA planning documents the McCain folks are reading ...

Rocket Man? Obama Tries to Hitch a Ride on Space Politics, Washington Examiner

"And some people, like Sen. Barack Obama, find the religion in space exploration when it's late in the campaign season, criticisms over his anti-space views are flying, and rumors of a Democratic party split over space are gaining velocity."

Space a Potential Fracture Line at Democratic National Convention?, Washington Examiner

"On the other hand, there's the presumptive nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, who's widely regarded as anti-space, despite this weeks's Google spin."

Editor's note: Question for author (former NASA PAO) Patricia Phillips: And you base these statements of yours on ... facts? You only seem to be citing "rumors". If you actually have some facts, please provide that underlying information to prove that Obama is indeed "anti-space" or perceived to be that way. For this to be an issue that is splitting the party thousands of people within the Democratic Party would need to be aware of this issue. You'll need to prove that too.

Oh yes, Patricia Phillips, who openly touts her NASA credentials, seems to be totally ignorant of a few historic facts as they relate to space exploration. NACA was the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics. NACA became NASA in 1958. But Obama is not talking about NACA. If Phillips had taken the time to carefully read or listen to what Obama said, she'd have seen that he was talking about bringing back "the National Aeronautics and Space Council". The Space Council, an advisory body operated by the White House and chaired by the Vice President is not - nor has it ever been - the same thing as NACA. Do a little more research before you dump on people in the future, Patricia.

Editor's update: I just got a really weird email from Patricia Phillips. Either she does not understand that she made an error or she does but has no intention of fixing it. Publicly released text and video of Sen. Obama speaking in Florida utterly refute her claim that he was talking about NACA. Oh well.

P.S. She also thinks a company named "McDonnell-Douglas" still exists.

Florida Democratic Party: McCain's Low Road on NASA

"Once again, John McCain and his campaign have decided to take the low road rather than defend his own record on NASA issues, which Florida Today called "downright schizophrenic." Not only has McCain voted to take funding from NASA to fund other priorities, but his "fantasy" plan to pay for making the Bush's tax cuts permanent by freezing discretionary funding and vetoing every bill with earmarks would cost the Mars mission millions.

Here are the facts on John McCain's record on NASA funding:"

Editor's note: During a campaign appearance in Titusville, FL on Saturday, Democratic candidate Sen. Obama commented on NASA. As part of a response to a question on oceanic research, he brought up the topic of NASA. He said "I know it's still being reported that we were talking about delaying some aspects of the Constellation program to pay for our early education program. I told my staff we're going to find an entirely different offset, because we've got to make sure that the money that's going into NASA for basic research and development continues to go there. That has been a top priority for us."

"This is an administration that is anti-science. They have rejected science - I want us to be a science-based society."

Editor's note: If you look at this original version of "Barack Obama's Plan For Lifetime Success Through Education" as first posted officialy some months ago, Section IX says "The early education plan will be paid for by delaying the NASA Constellation Program for five years". Yet, if you read the current version, that sentence about NASA is now gone. So this was more than just an issue of something "being reported". It was on Obama's own website, in one of his official position papers. This certainly strikes me as a policy reversal - albeit a positive one.

Obama says he will protect NASA jobs, budget, Orlando Sentinel

"That position had been "reported" on Obama's official campaign Web site until it was removed Saturday. The campaign of Republican rival John McCain was quick to point that out, declaring in a news release, "Barack Obama once again demonstrated that his words really don't matter."

Editor's update: According to the official Obama Blog:

"Barack was in Titusville, Florida this morning for a "Working for Change" town hall. Along with the economy, Barack talked about the need to focus on space exploration and the effect it has on Florida residents. He said..."

NASA's 50th Anniversary: Statement from Sen. Obama

"In recent years, Washington has failed to give NASA a robust, balanced and adequately funded mission. Though the good people of NASA who work day in and day out on new frontiers are doing amazing things, Americans are no longer inspired as they once were. That's a failure of leadership. "I believe we need to revitalize NASA's mission to maintain America's leadership, and recommit our nation to the space program, and as President I intend to do just that. We must revive the American ingenuity that led millions of children look to NASA astronauts and scientists as role models and enter the fields of math, engineering and science. Our leadership in the world depends on it."

Statement by John McCain on the 50th Anniversary of NASA

"While my opponent seems content to retreat from American exploration of space for a decade, I am not. As President, I will act to ensure our astronauts will continue to explore space, and not just by hitching a ride with someone else. I intend to make sure that the NASA Constellation program ha s the resources it needs so that we can begin a new era of human space exploration. A country that sent a man to the moon should expect no less."

Candidates Differ on Breadth of Education Plans, NPR

"Obama has said that his education proposals would cost about $18 billion and would be funded by trimming NASA's budget and auctioning surplus federal properties, among other measures. But most of the Illinois senator's education proposals are so costly that they would require Congress to approve additional new spending. He says he wants to make "a historic commitment" to education, because he wants to give every American child the same chances he had."

Looking at Mars - McCain is onboard for Bush's space mission; Obama may be more down to earth, opinion, LA Times

"Fiscal realities and NASA's commitment to keeping its $17-billion budget flat already seem to be putting a limit on Constellation, but Bush's, and now McCain's, vision nicely balances realism and ambition. Yet it's Obama who is sounding like the more realistic, market-oriented candidate. His campaign said recently that Obama hopes to enhance NASA's role "in confronting the challenges we face here on Earth, including global climate change" and "to reach out and include international partners and engage the private sector to increase NASA's reach and provide real public economic benefits for the nation."

Editor's note: According to this Republican National Committee website "Welcome to the most grassroots-driven platform development effort in the history of American politics! The Republican Party is seeking your input as we develop the policies and principles upon which we should stand for the next four years. On this website, you can share your thoughts, participate in polls, and communicate directly with the policymakers who will be shaping the party's agenda. All comments and feedback will be reviewed and taken into full consideration as we prepare for our convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul."

So, sign up for an an account, login, and start telling them what you think about space. Let's see if the DNC offers a similar service - we'll certainly link to it if they do.

Editor's update: Looks like the Democratic National Committee has something very similar online: "Today the Democratic National Committee and Obama for America unveiled a bold new initiative to involve the American people in the development of the Democratic National Platform. This year, for the first time, voters will have the opportunity to take part in Platform Meetings in all 50 states to help shape the Democratic Platform."

Progressive NASA and Space Policy Under a New Administration

"NASA is in crisis--overburdened, under-funded and inefficient. Yet the progressive legacy of space, which dates back to JFK, is being quietly reborn: NASA can reinvent itself as a critical resource in climate change mitigation; the UN and some in the U.S. military are collaborating to prevent space weapons from becoming an arms race with China; and progressive "NewSpace" entrepreneurs are creating new domestic high-tech jobs. Before 2009, a new progressive space policy needs to be devised and advocated beyond the traditional space constituencies, to upgrade Bush's failing space exploration vision. Who better to initiate this work than the Netroots?"

Innovation 2008: 14 Questions the candidates for President should answer about Science & America's Future, Innovation 2008

"On behalf of the American science and innovation community (see who here), we have submitted these questions to the candidates for President and asked them to do two simple things: A) provide a written response, which we will publish here, and B) discuss these questions in a nationally televised forum. ...

11. Space. The study of earth from space can yield important information about climate change; focus on the cosmos can advance our understanding of the universe; and manned space travel can help us inspire new generations of youth to go into science. Can we afford all of them? How would you prioritize space in your administration?"

Aviation Week Explores McCain's and Obama's Aerospace and Aviation Plans

"In nine articles, AW&ST explores topics that need attention on Day 1, such as education, R&D, export controls and NASA funding, as well as looming pressures to trim defense, despite engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The issue examines the role that Florida will play in the election, and discusses the impact the candidates' position on the future of the space program will have on the economy of the state's "space coast."

Florida Link to Launch Rally to Include Addresses from Federal, State Officials

What: Link to Launch: Floridians will gather, link their hands and countdown from 30 seconds when they will lift them skyward in a gesture to show solidarity and awareness of the importance of the Space Program to America. The rally is scheduled to coincide with a Senate subcommittee hearing being held inside the Port Authority Offices. The Link to Launch movement was started by people in on Florida's Space Coast to raise the awareness of the nation and our policy makers that Space is a critical element in our nation's security, our culture and global economic competitiveness. A limited number of media seats on helicopters are available for aerial photography.

When: Monday, June 23

NASA backers up ante, send message to next president, Orlando Sentinel

"President Bush "strongly opposes" the measure -- saying it costs too much -- but its backers said the bill isn't meant for him. It's intended to show presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama that NASA has support in Congress. "We're really on to the next administration at this point. That's 99 percent of our focus," said U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, one of the bill's sponsors. "By an overwhelming, enthusiastic and bipartisan majority, the U.S. House has endorsed an aggressive promotion of NASA in general and human spaceflight in particular."

McCain Wants a Man on Mars, Washington post

"Yes, I'd be willing to spend more taxpayers dollars,'' McCain said, adding he thought Americans respond to setting goals for specific projects. McCain said ever since reading Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles, "I'm intrigued by a man on Mars. I think it would excite the imagination of the American people . . . Americans would be very willing to do that.''

Video Of McCain's comments (scroll down a bit)

U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer still hasn't chosen Obama or Clinton, Birmingham News

"Cramer said Obama had positions about space exploration and how far along the space agency was in funding a return trip to the Moon and on to Mars. He said Obama made it clear that the exploration program was not just a signature of the Bush Administration, but one that many congressmen had wanted for years. "I wanted them to look at the issues more thoroughly ... I just got a commitment that they would," he said."

Space exploration on the cheap: America misses its moment, The Hill

"... All achieved by the clear vision laid out by President Kennedy when he told the nation that our goal was to be on the moon by the end of the 1960s. By comparison, today's lack of political leadership when it comes to space exploration is embarrassing.

Don't get me wrong. This is not a Republican or a Democratic matter. And politicians are not the only ones to blame. We the people, who have not exactly demanded excellence from our government over the past few decades, share a big part of the blame as well. Maybe even most of the blame."

Space Politics at ISDC

The so-so space debate, Space Review

"Those interested in space policy this election year have suffered from conflicting feelings. On the one hand, there have been plenty of opportunities for the candidates to speak about space issues, more so than in a typical election cycle, due perhaps to the length or intensity of the campaign. From formal policy statements to questions posed at town hall meetings, all three of the major remaining candidates--Senators Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Barack Obama--have had multiple opportunities to talk about how they would handle various space-related issues as president."

Space Politics at ISDC

The so-so space debate: initial impressions, Space politics

"Half of the four people on the panel were able to talk about space policy quite well: Lori Garver, representing Clinton, was well-versed in the issues, not surprising; OBrien has also done his homework, based on the questions he asked on topics beyond NASAs budget and the future of the vision, ranging from commercialization to military space policy to export control."


"What will happen to the International Space Station while NASA transitions from the Space Shuttle, retiring in 2010, to the Orion spacecraft, launching in 2014? The National Space Society considers this question and others during its 27th annual conference today in Washington, D.C."


Editor's note: Live C-SPAN coverage resumes at 2:00 pm EDT today with a discussion on space and the 2008 Election.

Excerpt of Sen. Obama's representative's (Steve Robinson) comments on space policy:

Sen. Obama views space policy within a larger framework of science in general. Sen. Obama is a friend of science and engineering. We need more input from scientists and engineers in decisions that affect research in these areas. General principles:

1. We need to build/support a strong pool of talented people to ensure the future of space research and to ensure a supply engineers of tomorrow. Inspiration takes many forms. My boss has not talked about space - and when he does he will talk about it in an inspirational way.

2. We need to create a supportive environment for research and development in both the public and private sector - including support for a a new generation of entrepreneurs.

3. Need to apply science, technology, and engineering to solve the world's greatest challenges.

4. Need to be linking human and robotic exploration of space more clearly to challenges that face our planet such as climate change and to provide unadulterated scientific advice to the government.

Steve Robinson suggested that there are other things that are done by robots in space that can be inspiring and that humans do not necessarily need to be there (although e personally find that inspiring). Moderator Miles O'Brien suggested that there are "no high schools named after robots". Robinson replied "some of those high schools are building robots". He elaborated that it might be more inspiring for his students (he's a teacher) to create ways to interact with rovers on Mars. "We should not limit our inspiration to what inspires us. I am not inspired by Second Life but others are."

Progressive Space

Announcing the Space Policy Panel at Netroots Nation / Yearly Kos, Andrew Hoppin

"I'm very pleased to announce that for the first time, The Netroots Nation (Yearly Kos) Convention will feature a panel on space policy, July 18th or 19th in Austin, Texas. The panel, entitled, "Progressive NASA & Space Policy Under a New Administration," is an opportunity to bring critical space policy issues to light within a potent progressive political constituency- the Netroots- that hasn't historically paid much attention to space. It is also an opportunity for the Netroots to weigh in on what a new progressive space policy agenda could be under a progressive Administration in 2009."

Spaced Out: Obama says NASA needs a mission, Orlando Sentinel

"Now I know we're transitioning from the shuttle to the Orion program and I am fully committed to making sure that is funded. But I want to review with NASA what are we doing in terms of manned flights to the moon or to Mars vs. are we better off using things like Hubble that yields us more information and better bang for the buck.

The bottom line is I am absolute committed to making sure we have a space program that is second to none in the world. That's my absolute commitment. But I want to sit down with NASA and figure out what's our focus and make sure that that focus is clear and yielding the kind of benefits over time. I want us to understand what it is we're trying to accomplish."

Education Position paper, Obama for President (NASA excerpt toward the bottom)

Candidates' space ideas lack launch pad, NPR Marketplace

"One thing the presidential candidates haven't been talking about is a space policy. Jeremy Hobson takes a look at whether the candidates have any plans for the final frontier."

Sen. Bill Nelson: White House race holds key to future of space program, Orlando Sentinel

"Nelson said that Floridians need to press their case on the presidential candidates, Republican John McCain and Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Clinton was the first candidate to outline support for "robust human spaceflight" and is seen as NASA's biggest booster of the three. But there are questions on how committed she is to the Bush administration's plans for exploration to the moon and then Mars."

Candidates and the space race (Video), CNN

"What do the candidates say? John McCain speaks favorably for continuing the current course for space exploration, but he also wants to control spending, and that could further disrupt funding. Hillary Clinton has ambitious plans including quote: "Robust human space flight." Her emphasis appears to be on astronauts looking back, studying our own planet to combat global warming. And Barack Obama has suggested that while work in space is important and should continue, it's no longer inspirational, and NASA needs to reconsider its goals. Unlike President John Kennedy who launched the moon missions, not one of them is saying much about returning to the moon, and they rarely mention Mars."

Clinton turns attention to observatory in Puerto Rico, Orlando Sentinel

"In a release issued by her Senate office, Clinton highlighted that Cornell University is a New York institution. She stressed the "historic relationship" between that state and Puerto Rico. "Cornell University scientists have used the remarkable tools available at Arecibo Observatory to greatly expand our understanding of the universe," Clinton said in the release. "I am proud to support the path-blazing accomplishments of these New Yorkers."

Clinton Introduces Legislation to Support Cornell's Innovative Observatory in Puerto Rico

IFPTE Endorses Obama

IFPTE Endorses Senator Barack Obama for President

"The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers' (IFPTE), an AFL-CIO affiliated labor union whose public, private and federal sector membership includes engineers, scientists and technicians at the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Energy (DOE), NASA and Boeing, has given their backing to Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States. The IFPTE Executive Council voted without opposition late yesterday to endorse the Illinois Senator."

Obama's response: " ... I'll fight for organized labor by protecting the right to organize. I'll support vigorous reinvestment in our federal research and development agencies, including NASA, to maintain America's leadership in Science and Technology and to foster economic competitiveness."

NASA Under Obama?

Obama's Plan for NASA, American Thinker

"As the legend goes, when the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortez landed in what is now Mexico in 1519, he ordered the boats that brought him and his men there to be burned. Obama seems to have something similar planned for NASA."

Editor's note: According to page 8 of the April 2008 Aviation Week ShowNews Briefing, AIA Space Systems VP J.P. Stevens says "It will be a battle if there is a Democratic administration".

Let's look at this a little more closely. Yes, Sen. Obama (D-IL) has indeed talked of drastic and unwarranted cuts to Project Constellation - and has said rather negative things about human spaceflight. But that's about the only specificity we've heard from him. By stark contrast, Sen. Clinton (D-NY) seems to be outright supportive of NASA.

Yet it is Sen. McCain (R-AZ) who has proposed a freeze on discretionary spending (which includes NASA's budget) which would amount to a cut (or non-growth) at a time when a number of NASA projects are depending upon budget increases.

And this would be set against a backdrop whereby the Bush Administration won't lift a finger to prepare a budget for FY 2010 - leaving the incoming Administration to scramble to cobble one together between November 2008 and January 2009. This comes after the Bush administration walked away from the earlier financial commitments it had made for the implementation of the VSE.

If anything, in 2008, with the politics in play - and the history of the past few years before us, the Republicans seem more intent upon depriving NASA of needed budget funds - and have a proven track record of doing so.

Then again, only time will tell what will actually happen.

We Need a Science White House, opinion, Wall Street Journal

"Tomorrow Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain should have been going toe-to-toe in a televised science debate. All three were invited by a bipartisan group of Nobel laureates and other scholars called ScienceDebate 2008 to step on stage at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and explain how they will ensure that America continues to dominate the sciences. Leading in scientific research and advancement is an essential element to our future prosperity, health and national defense. All three candidates declined. Apparently the top contenders for our nation's highest elective office have better things to do than explain to the public their views on securing America's future."

McCain unveils his economic plan

"The plan is centered around a one-year freeze in discretionary spending -- with the exception of military and veterans programs -- to allow for a "top-to-bottom review of the effectiveness of federal programs." "'Discretionary spending' is a term people throw around a lot in Washington, while actual discretion is seldom exercised," McCain said. "Instead, every program comes with a built-in assumption that it should go on forever, and its budget increase forever. My administration will change that way of thinking."

Editor's note: In other words McCain would apparently limit NASA's budget for FY 2010 to what it is going to end up being for FY 2009 - based on (I would guess) whatever budget level contained in any budget (or CR) enacted this Fall. That's not going to be good for Ares, Orion, or many other things ...

Run Nick Run

Texan's campaign champions NASA, gives slim hope for Kennedy Space Center job, Orlando Sentinel

"A Texas congressman trying to keep his job could be the best hope for Kennedy Space Center workers trying to keep theirs. But it's a slim hope at best. Meet U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, a Democrat defending a Houston-area seat once held by former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Like DeLay, Lampson is an avid NASA supporter with strong ties to nearby Johnson Space Center."

Presidential race a civics lesson for students

"Tyler Monroe, a senior at MCHS, hopes the next president will support the endeavors of NASA. "I think it's really important that we further the exploration in space," he said. "Space is the next frontier."

Transcript of questions and answers with Sen. Barack Obama, The

"Q: What do you plan to do with the space agency? Like right now they're currently underfunded, they, at first they didn't know if they were going to be able to operate Spirit rover. What do plan to do with it?

Elections and Budgets

Election year delay for NASA's Ares and Orion vehicles feared, Flight Global

"The USA's presidential election could leave NASA short of the funding it needs to keep its Orion crew exploration vehicle and Ares I booster project on track for their planned maiden flight in March 2015."

Editor's note: This really has nothing directly to do with the election this year. Continuing resolutions happen in non-election years as well as election years - just last year as a matter of fact. Congress has also passed budgets in election years as well.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration: Overview, FY2009 Budget, and Issues for Congress, Congressional Research Service 26 Feb 2008 via OpenCRS

"NASA stresses that its strategy is to "go as we can afford to pay," with the pace of the program set, in part, by the available funding. In 2004, the President proposed adding a total of $1 billion to NASA's budget for FY2005 through FY2009 to help pay for the Vision, but subsequent Administration budgets more than eliminated this proposed increase, and actual appropriations by Congress have been even less. Most funding for the Vision is thus being redirected from other NASA activities. To free up funding for Orion and Ares I, the space shuttle program will be terminated in 2010, and U.S. use of the ISS will end by 2017. NASA has not provided a cost estimate for the Vision as a whole. Its 2005 implementation plan estimates that returning astronauts to the Moon will cost $104 billion, not including the cost of robotic precursor missions, and that using Orion to service the ISS will cost an additional $20 billion. A report by the Government Accountability Office gives a total cost for the Vision of $230 billion over two decades."

No place for partisans on NASA, space exploration, editorial, Houston Chronicle

"Because of the 2008 presidential election, our nation's human spaceflight program is at a perilous crossroad. While Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain all have made allusions to supporting the program, none has made it a priority. In fact, in late 2007 Obama went on record as saying he planned to pay for his $18 billion education plan by taking it out of the hide of NASA. In defending his desire to delay the Orion and Ares programs (the next generation crew spacecraft and rockets), he stressed, "We're not going to have the engineers and scientists to continue space exploration if we don't have kids who are able to read, write and compute."

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 Your comments thus far:

NASA FOIA Images: Mitt Romney Tours SSPF-Pad 39A at KSC on 21 January 2008

NASA caption: "Images taken of the Mitt Romney tour at KSC are not, in any way, intended to reflect the endorsement of any candidate by NASA. These images were taken during a tour that is typically provided to other VIP's. NASA has not authorized the use of these images for campaign purposes and has obtained a commitment from the Romney campaign NOT to use these images for campaign purposes. These images are being released in response to FOIA requests."

Editor's note: Click to enlarge image. Isn't it a little odd that most people who are seen in this location are required to wear bunny suits and caps - and yet politicians and their spouses are not? [see comments below as KSC folks correct my assumptions regarding bunny suits - but not about the special access granted to Romney]. Let's see how NASA answers my FOIA request as to what constitutes a "VIP" and what the process is for evaluating and approving (or denying) requests for these personal tours and photo ops - conducted at taxpayer expense.

Kerry Blows Opportunity at KSC, 2004 post

Comments? Send them to Your comments thus far:

NASA's popularity rises as vote nears, Houston Chronicle

"In the countdown to Tuesday's Texas primary, the candidates still in the race are positioning themselves as astronauts' best friends -- but what they would actually do for manned space travel once elected remains up in the air. Under President Bush's current plan, the space shuttle will be retired in 2010. And with every candidate coming to Texas and professing devotion to NASA, space-watchers are trying to determine what the candidates actually will do when faced with a reeling economy and a record federal debt."

Candidates' Views Differ on Space Exploration, NPR

"Advocates of NASA's plan to return to the moon are concerned that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has said he will raid NASA's budget to fund education. While the issue of space exploration hasn't gotten much attention this campaign season, it is a topic on which the candidates do differ."

Hillary Clintons Statement in Support of U.S. Aerospace and Aviation

"Hillary will double NASA's and FAA's aeronautics R&D budgets as part of her plan to reverse the Bush administration's war on science. She will pursue a balanced strategy of robust human spaceflight, expanded robotic spaceflight, and enhanced space and Earth science activities. She will speed development, testing, and deployment of next-generation launch and crew exploration vehicles to replace the aging Space Shuttle program."

Space Policy Under an Obama Administration, SpaceDemocrats

"Many space constituents are publicly critical of the Obama campaign for campaign rhetoric that is less overtly supportive of the status quo of the US space program than that of the Clinton or McCain campaigns. However, to this constituent of space, Obama's ambivalence makes him THE MOST ATTRACTIVE Presidential candidate in this campaign. Why?"

Barack Obama: One-on-one with WKYC's Tom Beres, (half way through video)

Obama: "I've got a strong belief in NASA and the process of space exploration. I do think that our program has been stuck for a while - that the space shuttle mission did not inspire the imagination of the public - that much of the experimentation that was done could have been conducted not necessarily with manned flights. I think that broadening our horizons - and looking at a combination of both unmanned satellites of the sort that we saw with the Jupiter launch - but also looking at where we can start planning for potential manned flights. I think that is something that I'm excited about and could be part of a broader strategy for science and technology investment ... The only thing I want to say is that I want to do a thorough review because some of these programs may not be moving in the right direction and I want to make sure that NASA spending is a little more coherent than it has been over the last several years.

Former President Clinton stumps for Hillary in Houston, Houston Chronicle

"Clinton pointed out that Hillary Clinton places more of an emphasis than Obama on human space travel. "This is the center of American space travel," he said of Houston and the Johnson Space Center. "Sixteen thousand (local) jobs -- and a lot of America's future -- rely on this."

Bill Clinton Says Hillary Will Change Lives If Elected President, Fox 26

"He also emphasized her commitment to manned spaceflight. About 100,000 people in the Houston area work for NASA's Johnson Space Center or related industries."

Bill: Hillary Hearts Outer Space, National Journal Hotline

em>"Hillary has always supported the manned space program just as I did when I was president," he told a crowd of over 250 who gathered in a picturesque neighborhood park in a Houston suburb today. "Her opponent says we should downgrade man space travel and upgrade robotic travel."

Clinton, Obama Surrogates Debate Science Policy, CQ Politics

"It wasn't in primetime. In fact, it wasn't broadcast at all. The audience wasn't hand-picked to equally represent the candidates. But a weekend debate at the American Association for the Advancement of Science between science advisors to the Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns was strikingly similar to forums between the candidates."

Scientists urged to plan for the next US president, Nature (subscription)

"Alec Ross, a technology entrepreneur and adviser to Obama, focused on his candidate's plans to expand broadband and technology infrastructure to all Americans. He also hinted that within weeks Obama would unveil a new plan for NASA and space exploration."

Hillary Clinton campaigns in Houston, AP

"Clinton took the stage at about 9:40 p.m. and spoke for about 30 minutes. She touched on usual campaign themes, including affordable health care for all Americans and bringing home the troops from Iraq. She also hit on a local note, pledging to keep funding NASA. "I believe we need to keep funding our next generation of spacecraft," she said."

Clinton, Obama address Houston hot topics, Houston Chronicle

"Obama agreed that NASA, which employs thousands of Houston-area voters who work at or with the Johnson Space Center, should be a tool for inspiring the nation. But, he said, the next president needs to have "a practical sense of what investments deliver the most scientific and technological spinoffs -- and not just assume that human space exploration, actually sending bodies into space, is always the best investment."

Election 2008 Update

Clinton, Obama address Houston hot topics, Houston Chronicle

"I intend to pursue an ambitious agenda in both space exploration and earth sciences," Clinton said. "I want to support the next generation of spacecraft for a robust human spaceflight program." Obama agreed that NASA, which employs thousands of Houston-area voters who work at or with the Johnson Space Center, should be a tool for inspiring the nation. But, he said, the next president needs to have "a practical sense of what investments deliver the most scientific and technological spinoffs -- and not just assume that human space exploration, actually sending bodies into space, is always the best investment."

John Glenn Endorses Clinton, AP

"In 1962, Glenn, a Marine pilot, was the first American to orbit the Earth, becoming an instant national hero. In 1998, shortly before retiring from Senate after 24 years, he became the world's oldest astronaut, returning to space aboard the Shuttle Discovery at age 77. Glenn briefly sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984. "I am deeply honored to have the support of Senator Glenn, a true American hero," Clinton said. "With his help, we'll bring our message of change across Ohio."

Election 2008 Update

I Told Hillary to "Send Astronauts to Mars", Political Action for Space

"Last night, Michael Laine and I went to see Hillary campaign along the Seattle waterfront in a cruise line terminal. I squeezed underneath some bleachers to get to the VIP area and wiggled my way right up next to the disabled people and seniors. Then, when she was in the middle of her speech, I shouted: "Send Astronauts to Mars!" using a Hillary sign as a megaphone. She faltered, and continued talking about technology and innovation."

Editor's note: Well, there were no space questions asked in the Republican debate. But you can still vote for questions to be asked of the Democratic candidates on Thursday evening here. As it happened, no space-related questions were offered for final vote to be asked of Sen. Clinton. However, two space-related questions were among the finalists offered for voting for Sen. Obama.

Editor's update: Well, there were no space questions asked in the Democratic debate either. Was it worth your collective effort? Two space questions did make it to the top of the heap such that people could vote on them tonight. That is certainly a first - and there was the preponderance of space questions that managed to hold onto top positions for weeks on - also unprecedented.

But to me, the most important thing was a demonstration - by all of those people who submitted and voted for space-related questions - that space exploration advocates could exert this common surge of effort and help raise the issue of space exploration in a way that has not been seen in the past. Neither party has picked a nominee. And there is still a general election after they do. The opportunities to exert similar - and perhaps greater influence will continue.

You did it once, you can do it again.

What's The Point?, Political Action For Space

"I'm proud of what has happened, and I feel encouraged that sustaining our efforts throughout this election and beyond will bear greater fruits. I pledge to you all that I will continue my efforts running to make it easier for you to have an impact on the future of the space exploration. I look forward to the continued help and participation for you all. Thanks for your incredible response for the debates in Los Angeles."

Comments? Send them to Your comments so far:

Election 2008 Update

Getting Up to Speed on Space, Science (subscription)

"Blogs such as Space Politics and NASA Watch, and organizations such as the Mars Society, keep a close eye on every utterance by a candidate on space policy. They instruct their audience how to contact the campaigns and even coach readers on how to get a space question inserted into a presidential debate. And they are being heard. "It's a small but vocal group, and they've reached out from the beginning," says the Obama staffer. "I'm impressed with the grassroots effort," adds Lori Garver, a Washington, D.C., space consultant and former NASA official who advises Obama's chief rival, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY). "They've done more than all the sophisticated lobbyists."

Editor's note: I got this email today:

"Dear Space Advocate, This week, the presidential candidates will be at the podium again discussing the significant topics of our nation, and YOU have a chance to ask about what's important. As a supporter of space, this is your opportunity to get questions about Space Exploration at the forefront of the debate. Please check out the following link:, and vote for your favorite question, or submit one of your own. Questions about candidates' views on Space Exploration have been in the top 10 for over a week. Let's keep these on the radar. Be sure to check out the "most popular" area in both the Democratic and Republican section to see the specific question and submit your vote. is current undergoing maintenance at this time. However, you CAN make a difference by making your voice heard this week. Cast your vote or submit a question.... TODAY!

Sincerely, and the Coalition for Space Exploration"

There is one small problem with this. If you go to you will see that it is obviously no longer being operated by the Coalition for Space Exploration. Rather, a check of domain records shows that it is owned by some guy in Ankara, Turkey. I'm not certain how the Coalition folks could call this goof-up "maintenance" when they apparently have lost control of one of their prime websites.

Election 2008 Update

Young Engineer Leads Effort To Make Space a Topic of Presidential Debate,

"[John] Benac's call-to-arms read in part: "[W]e have a tremendous opportunity to put Mars on the political map for the presidential candidates. I have submitted a question for the Republican and Democratic debates that are happening in Los Angeles on January 30th. The way that this debate works is that people submit and vote for the questions that they like online, and the candidates are asked the ones with the most votes. Please tell everyone you think would act on this." Benac's plea to "put Mars on the political map" was quickly picked up and reposted by the Mars Society and the Web site, driving more traffic to the CNN/ Web site, resulting in the posting of new questions and votes for favorites."

NASA Watch on TV

Editor's note: I did an interview earlier today with CNN about the reentering NRO satellite that aired on CNN Moneyline this evening. I am taping an interview with Fox News tomorrow about space and the 2008 election.

O'Keefe Endorses McCain

Former NASA Chief Sean O'Keefe Endorses John McCain for President

"John McCain has been my friend for over 25 years -- and over that span of time in the varied leadership roles I have held, I have witnessed John's passion for doing the right thing on behalf of and as a friend to all Americans. I am proud to support him for president," said Chancellor O'Keefe. "John McCain personifies the depth of character and integrity we need in our next president. His candor, service and sacrifice, and leadership experience in every crucial debate over the last 20 years will serve to inspire the next generation of leaders to serve causes greater than their own self interest."

Editor's note: Don't forget about the 30/31 January Democratic/Republican debates. They are now just days away. These are the last major televised debates before Super Tuesday. You still need to go to this link at to submit/vote on space questions.

The frequency of space questions has dropped off and space questions are starting to slip in rankings. I have no idea when they will shut this off. Waste no time: add new questions, go to "most popular" for each party and make sure you have voted for the topic questions. Get your friends and family members to vote. And, if you are so inclined, you might want to vote at work, at home, at Starbucks, from your cellphone ... tell your spouse and kids to vote ... we need to use the same tricks that other "interests" use i.e. vote early - and often - and do so strategically.

You need to keep at this folks. Other "interests" have discovered this web page and are having an effect. This is a chance to make certain that the topic - and the veracity of its supporters - is known. These last few days are crucial. You have done a stellar job thus far - we can't let this opportunity slip as we head toward the home stretch.

As of 12:29 AM EST we are # 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25 on the Democratic side - yet we are only #5, 8, 13, 15, 19, 20, 22, 23 on the Republican side.



Otherwise, just sit down and shut up. You had your chance.

John McCain On the Issues: America's Space Program

"John McCain believes curiosity and a drive to explore have always been quintessential American traits. This has been most evident in the space program, for which he will continue his strong support."

Sen. McCain's comments on S. 2541 NASA Reauthorization Act

"Curiosity and a drive to explore have always been quintessential American traits. This has been most evident in the space program, which continues to show great advances in human knowledge. However, we are fully aware of the inherent risks and costs of space exploration, and the need to mitigate them wherever possible. Based on this knowledge, let us now embark upon this great journey into the stars to find whatever may await us."

Election 2008 Update

Candidates make room for space, Huntsville Times

"A month ago, I wouldn't have thought this the case, but (space exploration) is sort of in the candidates' face right now," said Keith Cowing, a former NASA astrobiologist who runs the Web site "It seems as if something is happening (with space) and that hasn't been the case in years."Much of the political discussion centers on space exploration as a technology and education issue, Cowing said. "If you read some of the position papers carefully, then you see space and exploration as topics that are also linked to other aspects of technology development, balance of trade and education," Cowing said."

Editor's note: Check out the front page of today's (27 Jan) Sunday Huntsville Times. Also, the last line in this story, although attributed to me, was not something that I said. This error is being fixed by the Times.

Action Update: Submit Space Questions to the U.S. Presidential Debates, Planetary Society

"The U.S. Presidential primaries season is now in full swing, and debates among the candidates are taking place regularly before millions of viewers. It is a unique opportunity to push space topics onto the national political agenda. And you can help. Here's how: The sponsors of the debates are inviting the public to submit questions to the candidates online"

Election 2008 Update

Guiliani's Gamble, Hartford Courant

"He told them a Giuliani presidency will return America to the dominance it has lost in space. "The U.S. will be the first nation that puts somebody on Mars," he said. "We're not a limited people. We're not a people who think small," he told them. "We're here because we came from people who had grand visions."

Republicans, Lost in Space, NY Times

"Campaigning in his make-or-break state of Florida last week, Mr. Giuliani released a statement promising to "make space a priority." Apparently, America is facing a crisis far greater than health care or education reform: when the current fleet of space shuttles is retired in 2010, it's going to take as much as five years--five years, people!--before we can send another guy into orbit."

Election 2008 Update

Tell McCain and Romney in Your Own Voice, ActionForSpace

"Tomorrow, January 24, all space supporters in Florida: at 6:45 p.m, Governor Romney attends a pre-debate rally at Bogart's Bar & Grille: Muvico Palace 20, 3200 Airport Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431 Go get yourself a burger, sidle up to good 'ole Mitt, and tell him why he needs to give NASA a couple billion more dollars. Tell him what effect if will have on your vote. He seems like a nice enough guy to talk to."

Election 2008 Update

Space becomes primary frontier as candidates court voters in Fla., ATlanta Journal Constitution

"For the first time in decades, space policy is emerging as a presidential campaign issue and, political strategists say, could become a decisive factor in the race to the White House. In the run-up to Florida's Jan. 29 primary, candidates have begun to talk about their views on the future of human space exploration. On Friday, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani stopped at Kennedy Space Center to pledge he would give NASA the money it needs to return Americans to the moon and go to Mars. On Monday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney followed suit."

Time to put the Heat Onto Barack, Political Action For Space

"Barack Obama is opening up a campign office in Huntsville in a few hours! Go there and tell him (or his campaign people) that his space policy needs to be revised!"

Wolf Blitzer: What would you ask the Democrats in South Carolina?, CNN

"I am going to be hosting a Democratic presidential debate on Monday, January 21, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina"

Editor's 20 Jan note: Wolf Blitzer just (11:44 am EST) read a space-oriented question on the air at CNN selected from those that have been submitted to this web page. Lets see if you can give him some more!

And don't forget about the 30/31 January Democratic/Republican debates. Go to this link at to submit/vote on space questions. The frequency of space questions has dropped off and space questions are starting to slip in rankings.

You need to keep at this folks.

Editor's 20 Jan note: Rudy Giuliani was on CNN (12:23 pm EST) with Wolf Blitzer and made a fleeting mention of "having access to our space shuttle" as he talked about being in Florida.

Election 2008 Update

Time to put the Heat onto Romney, Political Action For Space

"Mitt Romney won the Nevada primary this morning. He also accepted the same invitation the Giuliani had acted on yesterday to meet with the Economic Development Council of Floridas Space Coast."

Giuliani pledges to send astronauts to the moon and Mars, Political Action For Space

"Giuliani stated boldly and unequivocally today his commintment to send humans to the Moon and Mars, among other things."

Rudy at KSC today; Mitt coming Monday, Orlando Sentinel

"Next up is Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor plans to visit KSC on Monday for a closed tour and then meet with the Economic Development Commission of Floridas Space Coast, which also lobbied Giuliani."

Editor's 14 Jan note: If you are wondering why the presidential candidates don't spend more time talking about space exploration, here's your chance to try and change that situation and toss questions at them. Go to this link at and submit a question to the Democratic and Republican candidates for the CNN/Politico/LA Times debates at the end of the month. Imagine what would happen if they had a thousand questions from NASA Watch readers submitted ... its time for y'all to put up or shut up. Send in a question. Send in more than one question.

Space Supporters Hit the CNN Presidential Debate Website Hard, Wired

"This is clearly not random chance. NASA Watch, a private website, ran a note about the website two days ago and it appears the readers (and likely the reader's friends, families, and associates) took this idea and ran with it."

Editor's 17 Jan a.m. update: Space questions continue to do well. There are still 2 weeks until the actual debates- so the trick now is to keep the momentum going. Vote for space questions, keep submitting your own, and try and focus on a single, clear question and avoid long speeches on one narrow topic, etc.

Meanwhile there is another debate where CNN is looking for your input:

Editor's 18 Jan a.m. update: It looks like activity has slacked off. The number of space-oriented questions has fallen from the top portion of the list - most notably on the Republican side. Things are better on the Democratic side but there has been erosion there as well. As best I can figure it there needs to be a constant influx of new questions while people vote for the older ones. The easiest way to do this is to check the "most recent" link several times a day and go down and click on all of the space questions you like. This way you don't miss any. In addition, going to the "most popular" page usually only works for new visitors (or for those of you using another computer). In essence: perseverance, new questions, and new people are required to keep this up. You have done a great job thus far - keep at it!

Space: The Final Electoral Frontier?, Orlando Sentinel

"The surge followed an appeal from NASA Watch, a private website, encouraging space supporters to flood the debate website with questions about space. The request appears to have struck a nerve as NASA Watch aficionados and other space fans came out of the woodwork, inundating the website with inquires about the candidates' views on missions to the moon and mars, robotic exploration and climate change."

Submit Your Space Questions to the Debates, Planetary Society

"When you go to the site, you will see that numerous space-related questions already have been submitted, in large part thanks to the efforts of Keith Cowing, editor of the website NASAWATCH."

Earlier posts:

National Science Board Science and Engineering Indicators 2008, NSF

"Science and Engineering Indicators, published by the National Science Board, provides a broad base of quantitative information on the U.S. and international science and engineering enterprise."

NSB Science and Engineering Indicators 2008: Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Understanding: Highlights

page 7-13: "Relative to other topics, including S&T-related topics, interest in space exploration has consistently ranked low both in the United States and around the world. Surveys in Europe, Russia, China, and Japan document this general pattern."

page 7-26/27: "Although support for federal research investment is at historically high levels, other kinds of federal spending generate even stronger public support (appendix table 7-18). Support for increased spending is greater in numerous program areas, including education (73%), health care (72%), assistance to the poor (68%), environmental protection (67%), and Social Security (61%). Scientific research ranks about on a par with mass transit (38%) and well ahead of Science and Engineering Indicators 2008 7-27 space exploration (14%) and assistance to foreign countries (10%) in the proportion of the U.S. population favoring increased spending."

Your chance to ask the candidates a question, MSNBC

"Watch the Jan. 15th 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidates' Debate the first debate since the New Hampshire primaries on MSNBC TV and to see if your question is asked."

Obama On Space Exploration

Barack Obama's Plan For American Leadership in Space

"Over the decades, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has embodied the adventurous spirit that lifted this nation to greatness and inspired people around the world. Barack Obama believes that the United States needs a strong space program to help maintain its superiority not only in space, but also here on earth in the realms of education, technology, and national security. Over the years, NASA technology has been applied to improve everything from computers and medical technology to baby formula and automobiles. Work done at NASA, whether here on earth or in outer space, impacts the daily lives of all Americans."

Election 2008, previous posts

Editor's note: Reliable sources report that Rudy Giuliani's visit to the KSC area tomorrow (Wednesday) is almost certainly being put off for a week - perhaps until 18 January.

Editor's Update: Just confirmed - he will be at KSC next week on 18 January.

Editor's note: Last night's Iowa election results left several messages (to me at least). For both parties, it seems that change is in the air and that manufactured candidates pushed by big party interests did not go over all that well (at least in Iowa). For the Republicans, it is unclear whether Huckabee's win is a flash in the pan or the beginning of a trend. For the Democrats, Obama's win over Hillary Clinton (Oh yes Edwards beat her too) signals a potential tectonic shift whereby traditional constituencies that common thought would suggest go for/against a female candidate and for/against a person of color where turned on their heads. Also "experience" and "change" seemed to trade places in terms of importance to voters. Again, we have only one data point thus far: Iowa. The weeks ahead will tell whether these two trends - together or individually will pan out into trends and/or paradigm shifts.

Obama clarifies his space policy,

"Obama believes we should continue developing the next generation of space vehicles, and complete the international space station. While Obama would delay plans to return to moon and push on to mars, Obama would continue unmanned missions, and use NASA to monitor the forces and effects of climate change, support scientific research, and maintain surveillance to strengthen national security. Obama also believes we need to keep weapons out of space."

Space Makes it into the Presidential Debate, earlier post

"Cooper: Governor Huckabee?

NASA pumps some -- let's see, how many -- $5 billion into Florida's economy.

Huckabee: Whether we ought to go to Mars is not a decision that I would want to make, but I would certainly want to make sure that we expand the space program, because every one of us who are sitting here tonight have our lives dramatically improved because there was a space program -- whether it's these screens that we see or the incredible electronics that we use, including the GPS systems that got many of you to this arena tonight.(Laughter)

Some of you were late because you didn't have one, by the way. Or whether it's the medical technologies that saved many of our lives or the lives or our families, it's the direct result of the space program, and we need to put more money into science and technology and exploration. Now, whether we need to send somebody to Mars, I don't know. But I'll tell you what: If we do, I've got a few suggestions, and maybe Hillary could be on the first rocket to Mars."

Election 2008, Earlier posts

Given Obama's initial and then restated policies on space exploration, and those expressed by Huckabee, what do their respective wins (and possible future wins) mean for space policy? Do they mean anything at all?

Send your comments to Your comments thus far:

Slippery PR ploys trip up practitioners, Opinion, USA Today

"At first glance, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and NASA chief Michael Griffin don't have much in common. Huckabee is no rocket scientist, and Griffin is no presidential aspirant. But their respective recent forays into the field of communications illustrate a common point: Sometimes it is easy to look dumb trying to be clever."

Editor's note: STS-90 payload specialist Jay Buckey is running for the Democratic senate nomination in New Hampshire.

One of the things his campaign is offering in exchange for contributions are these little space shuttles.

Campaigns Should Support Space Exploration, Aerospace Industries Association

"Presidential campaigns should publicly express their support of NASA's Constellation Program to ensure America's leadership in space exploration as well as boost education, AIA President and CEO Marion Blakey said. The exploration program, which will return astronauts to the moon and explore Mars and beyond, should not be delayed under any circumstances since there is already a manned spaceflight gap looming."

Editor's note: Last night a Mars Society member (and Hukabee supporter) managed to get a video question inserted into the Republican Presidential debate. Yet, as of 2:00 pm EST neither Planetary Society, the National Space Society, the Coalition for Space Exploration, the Space Exploration Alliance, or even the Mars Society has any mention whatsoever of this question being asked last night. Gee, I had something online 10-20 minutes after the words were spoken - and I am not especially gifted in regard to web stuff. It is now 14 hours later and there is not a peep from the space advocacy community. I have to ask, why is anyone (campaign staff, voters) going to pay any additional attention to groups that support an issue when they cannot get off of their collective butts to even make note of (and capitalize upon) a potential breakthrough in a national debate?

Editor's note: A video (below) from a Mars Society member (complete with logos) managed to get in on the CNN/YouTube debate among Republican presidential candidates. In responding, Gov. Huckabee was rather supportive of space exploration and its benefits to our society and economy. He even wanted to send Hillary Clinton to Mars. Rep. Tom Tancredo said that there is not enough money to spend on a Mars mission (transcript below).

Editor's note: According to a NASA Watch reader, the person who submitted this question, Steve Nielson, has a pro-Huckabee website.

Obama Trashing Space Exploration (discussion), Newsvine

"Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's education policy is causing a stir ... but not all in a good way. Advocates for space exploration are noting with dismay that he'd take billions of dollars from NASA to pay for the educational programs he'd like to expand."

Space Vs. Education, MSNBC

"Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obamas education policy is causing a stir but not all in a good way. Advocates for space exploration are noting with dismay that hed take billions of dollars from NASA to pay for the educational programs he'd like to expand."

Future Human Spaceflight - Democratic Candidate Launches a Position as Opponents Orbit From a Safe Distance, Washington Post

"The major presidential candidates pummel each other daily on issues ranging from the Iraq war to health care. But when it comes to President Bush's ambitious initiative to send humans back to the moon and on to Mars, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is all but alone in staking out a formal position -- and it's one that lends support to key aspects of the president's effort.

She initially outlined the need for a "robust" human spaceflight program last month during a Washington speech on science policy, despite being broadly critical of the Bush administration's record on scientific issues."

Obama plan: reward teachers, lengthen school time, Baltimore Sun

"Barack Obama is planning to unveil an education plan today that would make affordable pre-school programs more widely available and offer pay incentive programs for effective teachers. It would also allow schools to lengthen the teaching day or the school year. The $18 billion annual program would be offset by savings and cuts in federal agencies, including NASA. ... The cost of the early education plan would come partly from delaying the NASA Constellation Program for five years ..."

Obama's Education Rollout, MSNBC

"Though Obama called for a renewed investment in math and science education, his plan would actually pull money from the federal government's greatest investments and achievements in math and science. Obama would delay funding for the NASA Constellation program for five years, though he would maintain the $500 million in funding the program would receive for its manufacturing and technology base, in order to help fund his education policy. The campaign did not say how much money delaying the program would provide."

Obama unveils education proposal , The Hill

"A spokesman for the Republican National Committee (RNC) criticized the NASA cut. "It is ironic that Barack Obama's plan to help our children reach for the stars is financed in part by slashing a program that helps us learn about those very same stars," said Danny Diaz, RNC spokesman."

Editor's note: Let's see, the gap between Shuttle retirement and Constellations' first flight is approaching 5 years. Now Obama wants that to be ten years. I guess that means that the only way for America to reach the ISS for a decade will be aboard Russian spacecraft. That is totally unacceptable.

Ron Paul: Trouble back home, The Hill

"When told that "Ron Paul consistently opposes taxpayer funding for NASA and wants to eliminate the agency," 61 percent of Republican primary voters said this information would make them less likely to vote for Paul's reelection."

Rudy Courts ET Voters

Giuliani: Preparedness key, even if aliens attack, AP

"Presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani on Sunday said preparedness will be key for all crises, even an attack from outer space. During a town hall meeting in Exeter, a young questioner asked the former New York mayor about his plan to protect Earth. "If (there's) something living on another planet and it's bad and it comes over here, what would you do?" the boy asked."

Hillary Clinton's Agenda to Reclaim Scientific Innovation

"Hillary will enhance American leadership in space, including:

- Pursuing an ambitious 21st century Space Exploration Program, by implementing a balanced strategy of robust human spaceflight, expanded robotic spaceflight, and enhanced space science activities.

- Developing a comprehensive space-based Earth Sciences agenda, including full funding for NASA's Earth Sciences program and a space-based Climate Change Initiative that will help us secure the scientific knowledge we need to combat global warming.

-Promoting American leadership in aeronautics by reversing funding cuts to NASA's and FAA's aeronautics R&D budget."

Scientific Integrity and Innovation: Remarks at The Carnegie Institution for Science by Sen. Hillary Clinton

"Fifty years ago, Sputnik marked the dawn of the Space Age and the beginning of a new era filled with new challenges. Fifty years later, there is no single, galvanizing event to steel our resolve and to lift our eyes to the heavens. The challenges we face are more complex and interconnected. From the rise of globalization to the threat of global warming. These challenges require big ideas and bold thinking."

Editor's note: What is surprising to me is the extensive portion of the overall speech devoted to space exploration and space policy. I am not sure that any presidential candidate has said this much in public about space in a long time.

Watch the speech on YouTube

Science Policy Speech by Hillary Clinton

"Tomorrow morning, Hillary will be giving a speech on her science policy, and we'd like you to attend. After six years of George Bush putting ideology ahead of science, America is ready for a change, and Hillary will lay out her plans to support scientific research and restore the role of science in decision-making. Space is limited and RSVPs are required. RSVP now:"

Editor's note: Word has it that Sen. Clinton will make some very specific and detailed recommendations for the space policy she'd implement as President.

NASA and the next administration, SpaceReview

"It has long been a complaint of space advocates that presidential candidates spend little or no time discussing their space policy positionsif, in fact, they have bothered to develop any positions on the subject. Space is near the bottom of the list of topics of interest to the electorate in general, and one that is not a swing issue for all but a small handful of voters. It is also rarely a partisan issue, making it difficult for space policy to become more ammunition in the continuous battles between Republicans and Democrats. Thus, even in the current campaignwhich is shaping up to be the longest and perhaps the most contentious in US historytheres scant attention paid to space."

Editor's note: Over the past several weeks I have had an opportunity to talk with people who are working space policy - and related issues - for both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates and party organizations. One common theme is readily apparent (so far) - on both sides: a greater use of private sector solutions - i.e. the use of commercial launch vehicles - specifically EELVs - as the launch vehicle of choice for the CEV. No one seems to be all that fond of continuing the development of Ares 1 (a government-owned solution) or the cost of developing something that already exists i.e. something you can buy now (EELVs). Of course, much can change between now and the election - and who will run NASA in 2009. But the writing on the wall is starting to become rather clear.

Editor's update: Contrary to what some of the space chat pages would suggest in response to this post last night, the individuals I have spoken with are not other space chat site posters whose opinions are pulled out of thin air. Rather, these are individuals, many of whom who work here in Washington, DC with significant positions in government, politics, industry, and academia. Many are seasoned political and campaign veterans.

Hillary Clinton Hears About Space Policy at Washington Issues Forum, SpaceRef

"Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's Presidential campaign held an "Issues Forum & Breakfast" this morning in Washington, DC. at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill - and space policy was on the agenda. Among the breakout sessions was one titled "Commercial & Civil Aerospace" which was led and hosted by former NASA Policy and Plans Associate Administrator Lori Garver. Former NASA Public Affairs Associate Administrator Glenn Mahone also participated as a moderator."

McCain's temper back on campaign's front-burner, LA Times

"One bureaucrat who felt McCain's wrath was former NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin, who was summoned by McCain in 1999, not long after a $125-million probe crashed on Mars because of confusion over the use of English and metric units. McCain's Senate Commerce Committee had oversight over NASA.

"McCain went ballistic the moment Goldin walked into McCain's office," said a participant in the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity because he still worked in the government arena. "He was shouting and using profanity, saying he was sick of NASA's screw-ups. It went on for a few minutes, and then he kicked Goldin out of the office."

Goldin started walking down the hallway but was called back to the senator's office by a McCain aide. "When he came back in, McCain started yelling at Goldin all over again. And then McCain kicked Goldin out a second time before he ever said a word," the source said."

Giuliani to visit Space Center, raise cash, Huntsville Times

"Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani will visit Huntsville today for a luncheon fundraiser and a stop at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. The Republican candidate for president is also making campaign stops in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. Giuliani is to attend a $1,000-a-plate luncheon and photo op fundraiser at The Ledges in south Huntsville. It is a closed event, said Elliott Bundy, regional communications director for Giuliani's campaign."

Giuliani stresses strong military, women's right of choice, Huntsville Times

"Arriving afterward at the Space Center, Giuliani said military research in robotics and bomb detection not only would help in Iraq, but would improve law enforcement here and homeland security."

Editor's note: Word has it that Kerry 2004 Space Advisor Lori Garver hosted a dinner at her home in McLean last night for like-minded pro-space Democrats. There are also rumblings that Democratic space wonks are beginning the process of considering the drafting of draft white papers on space policy for an election 18 months away ... stay tuned.

McCain on Space Exploration

McCain meets religious broadcasters in Fla., holds town meetings, KVOA

"[Republican presidential candidate John McCain] also said he strongly supports missions to Mars and that Florida should continue to play a major role in space exploration. "There's too much invested there. There's infrastructure that's very expensive and very extensive there," he said."



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