CDSE Posts and Events

‘Legislative Activity’

Capitol Hill News

Reaction to President Obama’s Speech

April 16th, 2010

Having spent the day returning from covering the President’s speech in Florida, we are just catching up on reaction to it.   Rather than reinvent the wheel, here are links to Jeff Foust’s roundup of congressional and other statements on Spacepolitics.com and to Keith Cowing’s on NASAWatch.

Based on a quick read, it looks as though the speech did not change the dynamics of the debate very much among those who have been commenting on it all along.   Still to be heard from, though, are key congressional players like the chairs of the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees that fund NASA (Rep. Alan Mollohan and Sen. Barbara Mikulski), the ranking member of the House appropriations subcommittee (Rep. Frank Wolf), and the chair of the House Science and Technology Committee (Rep. Bart Gordon) and its Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee (Rep. Gabrielle Giffords).    Sen. Mikulski will hold a hearing on NASA this coming week (April 22).

Keep Reading
Capitol Hill News

Obama Promises Continued Leadership in Space

April 15th, 2010

Kennedy Space Center, FL – President Obama told an invitation-only audience at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) today that his plan for NASA will assure U.S. leadership in space is stronger in the 21st Century than it was in the last century.  Saying that no one is more committed to NASA’s human space flight program than he is, the President said humans will land on Mars and “I expect to be around to see it.”

The President made no retreat from his conviction that the future of human space flight – at least to and from low Earth orbit – should be in the hands of the private sector.    Instead, during his short visit, he found time to pop over to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (adjacent to KSC) to visit SpaceX’s Falcon 9 sitting on its launch pad.

Obama reviewed the basics of his plan, which are essentially the same as what was announced in the FY2011 budget request.  As presaged in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy press release on Tuesday, however, there is some fine tuning that may ameliorate some of his critics.   While Orion is not really continued, the President said that NASA will develop a space station rescue craft using the technology developed in the Orion program.

The President’s plan has been heavily criticized for not having a destination or timetable.  The President offered some timelines today, but they are not in the near term.   He said “early in the next decade, a set of crewed flights will test and prove the systems required for exploration beyond low Earth orbit” and new spacecraft for human missions beyond the Moon would be ready by 2025.   As for a destination, he explicitly identified a human mission to an asteroid as the next step.  Evoking President John F. Kennedy’s famous 1961 speech calling on the nation to send a man to the Moon and return him safely to Earth within a decade, President Obama said that “By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth.  And a landing on Mars will follow.  And I expect to be around to see it.”  He eschewed the Moon, saying “We’ve been there before…. There’s a lot more of space to explore.”

As expected, he also said that a decision would be made by 2015 on what new heavy lift launch vehicle to develop, which he said was two years earlier than under the previous plan.

Noting that Rep. Suzanne Kosmas keeps reminding him that he promised to help with jobs in the transition from Shuttle to Constellation, he announced that he is proposing a $40 million initiative to develop a plan for regional economic growth and job creation along Florida’s Space Coast.  The plan is due by August 15.    Separately he said that his proposal would add 2,500 more jobs in the next two years in the area than the previous plan, and that 10,000 jobs could be created nationwide over the next few years as companies compete to be part of the “new space transportation industry.”

The speech does little to change the nature of the program revealed in February, but indicates that the White House is willing to respond to some of the criticism it has encountered.   For those who firmly believe that new spacecraft and launch vehicles should be developed under the traditional government-private sector relationship that has defined the space program for the past 50 years, the speech probably did little to ease their concerns.   Nor would those whose worry mostly about jobs be assuaged, since there were few details about how new jobs would be created.   But for anyone who wanted to know where the human space flight program is headed and on what schedule, the President offered some answers today and his personal enthusiasm for the human space flight program.    The ball is back in Congress’ court to decide whether to embrace the President’s plan for the future, try to keep the Constellation program in spite of the significant budget implications of that choice, or come up with something else.

Editor’s note:  The President said that before he went on stage someone told him that the space program was more than Tang and he replied that he really likes Tang.    Regrettably that comment may reinforce the urban myth that Tang came out of the space program.  It did not.  Nor did Velcro or Teflon even though those are the three products that most people seem to think are space program spin-offs.  

Keep Reading
Capitol Hill News

UPDATE 2: At KSC For the Obama Speech

April 15th, 2010

UPDATE 2:  The President is about to speak.

UPDATE 1:   President Obama, followed by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL), and then followed by NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, just came down the steps from Air Force One.

ORIGINAL STORY:  Edtor’s Note:   I am here at the Operations and Checkout (O&C) building at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) eagerly awaiting the President’s speech.    He is not due to land for more than half an hour yet, and the speech does not begin until 2:45, but the media are being assembled so we are in place when he gets to this building (and then there are the security considerations that require everyone to be here in advance).   Media had a choice of being at the Air Force One landing and takeoff, or being here to cover the speech.  Logisitically it was not possible to cover both venues.  Naturally, I chose the speech.   There are four plasma screens in front of me that appear to be broadcasting NASA TV — with shots of the International Space Station crew busily at work — and later will be used to broadcast the breakout sessions.  This is a huge building and even with 100 or so media people in it at the moment it would not quite be accurate to call the atmosphere “electric,” but I certainly am excited to be here.   Follow me on Twitter (SpcPlcyOnline), or check back here for updates.  — Marcia Smith

Keep Reading
Capitol Hill News

UPDATE 3: At KSC For the Obama Speech

April 15th, 2010

UPDATE 3:  The President’s speech is over and pretty much followed what was in the OSTP fact sheet two days ago.   It seems to have been well received by the invitation-only audience.  The NASA “conference” has begun as Norm Augustine is reviewing what his report said last year.  Check back with SpacePolicyOnline.com in a bit for a report on the President’s speech.

UPDATE 2:  The President is about to speak.

UPDATE 1:   President Obama, followed by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL), and then followed by NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, just came down the steps from Air Force One.

ORIGINAL STORY:  Edtor’s Note:   I am here at the Operations and Checkout (O&C) building at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) eagerly awaiting the President’s speech.    He is not due to land for more than half an hour yet, and the speech does not begin until 2:45, but the media are being assembled so we are in place when he gets to this building (and then there are the security considerations that require everyone to be here in advance).   Media had a choice of being at the Air Force One landing and takeoff, or being here to cover the speech.  Logisitically it was not possible to cover both venues.  Naturally, I chose the speech.   There are four plasma screens in front of me that appear to be broadcasting NASA TV — with shots of the International Space Station crew busily at work — and later will be used to broadcast the breakout sessions.  This is a huge building and even with 100 or so media people in it at the moment it would not quite be accurate to call the atmosphere “electric,” but I certainly am excited to be here.   Follow me on Twitter (SpcPlcyOnline), or check back here for updates.  — Marcia Smith

Keep Reading
Capitol Hill News

What the President Will Say Tomorrow About NASA

April 15th, 2010

It’s been clear for many weeks that some sort of compromise would have to be worked out between Congress and the White House on the future of the human space flight program.  The President’s plan, revealed as part of the FY2011 budget request, met a cold reception on Capitol Hill.    In advance of President Obama’s speech at Kennedy Space Center tomorrow at 2:45 pm EDT, an OSTP fact sheet released yesterday provides the outlines of that compromise.

Keep Reading
Capitol Hill News

All Eyes on Florida As Obama Space Conference Nears

April 14th, 2010

Anticipation continues to mount as April 15 and President Obama’s major space policy address nears.   The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and NASA each have issued fact sheets that are available on OSTP’s website.  According to NASA’s instructions to the media, the President will land at Kennedy Space Center at 1:30 pm EDT, and the program will begin at 2:45 pm.   Air Force One and the President will depart at 3:45 pm.  The conference includes “breakout groups” after the President’s address and then a closing ceremony, but details are scarce.   The entire event will be streamed on NASA TV.

Keep Reading
-->