Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Obama's "Devastating" Plans for NASA

President to Outline His Vision for NASA
President Obama will seek to promote his vision for the nation’s human space flight program on Thursday, just two days after three storied Apollo astronauts — including Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the Moon — called the new plans “devastating.”

In an announcement to be made at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the president will personally talk for the first time about the sweeping upheaval of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s human spaceflight program outlined in his 2011 budget request: canceling the current program that is to send astronauts back to the Moon, investing in commercial companies to provide transportation to orbit and developing new space technologies.


Mr. Obama’s budget request called for the cancellation of Orion crew capsule, which was to be used to carry astronauts to the International Space Station and then to the Moon, as well as other components of the current program known as Constellation.

The president will propose that a simpler version of the Orion be used as a lifeboat for the space station. Russian Soyuz capsules currently provide that function. Because the Orion lifeboat would not carry astronauts to the space station, it could be launched on existing rockets.


“There has not been a well-articulated plan and vision,” said Edward F. Crawley, an engineering professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who served on the blue-ribbon panel that reviewed NASA’s human spaceflight program last year.

Others find the essentials of the plan flawed, not just the presentation. In a letter to Mr. Obama, reported Tuesday by NBC News, Mr. Armstrong, the commander of Apollo 11, along with James A. Lovell Jr., the commander of Apollo 13, and Eugene A. Cernan, the commander of Apollo 17, wrote, “For the United States, the leading space-faring nation for nearly half a century, to be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destines our nation to become one of second- or even third-rate stature.”

In a letter released Monday, 27 NASA veterans — including Eugene F. Kranz, the flight director who presided over the safe return of the crew aboard the crippled Apollo 13 spacecraft in 1970 — asked Mr. Obama to reconsider the “misguided proposal.”

The reception from Congress has so far been mostly chilly but mostly from representatives in states that are home to the NASA centers that would be most hurt by the changes — the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Johnson Space Center in Texas and the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. [...]

A great deal of money has already been spent on developing the Orion spacecraft and the Constellation program. Cancel that now, and all that money is wasted.

The Orion spacecraft is supposed to be our replacement for the space shuttle. Canceling it leaves us with no spacecraft. We will be 100 % dependent on the Russians for transporting astronauts, and we will have to pay them a fortune to do that for us.

What kind of behind-closed-doors deal has Obama struck with the Russians? This seems to benefit them the most.

I'm all for more private enterprise in our space program, but this is so wrong in so many ways. Wasteful, and the shenanigans with the budget, well, read the whole thing.

Killing our space program. More Change You Can Believe In.

Also See:

NASA's Planned Return to the Moon - Canceled?

NASA's Constellation Program

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