Election 2008: August 2008 Archives

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..."



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This page is an archive of entries in the Election 2008 category from August 2008.

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