Obama under fire over space plans

Oct 03, 2011 by Jean-Louis Santini
US President Barack Obama speaks with Astronaut Mark Kelly at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida in April 2011. High-profile critics fear President Barack Obama's commercial overhaul of human spaceflight is going nowhere and could mark the end of half a century of US supremacy among the stars and planets.

High-profile critics fear President Barack Obama's commercial overhaul of human spaceflight is going nowhere and could mark the end of half a century of US supremacy among the stars and planets.

"We will have no American access to, and return from, and the International Station for an unpredictable length of time in the future," , the first man to set foot on the Moon, warned lawmakers at a recent hearing.

The end of the space shuttle era has left America's human spaceflight program in an "embarrassing" state, Armstrong said, arguing that NASA needs a stronger vision for the future and should focus on returning humans to the Moon and to the .

With the US now mothballed after its last flight in July, the United States is forced to depend on Russia's Soyuz capsules to ferry astronauts to the orbiting research laboratory until at least 2015.

Obama canceled the Constellation program that aimed to return humans to the Moon by 2020 and called on NASA to instead focus on new, deep-space capabilities to carry people to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars by 2030.

NASA is counting on the private sector to develop a shuttle alternative at the least possible cost within the next five years.

But many experts doubt that the firms, most of which have little space experience, can step up to the challenge.

"I don't think any of the ISS partners looks at what we are doing in the US with commercial cargo and crew and feels very confident," Space Policy Institute director Scott Pace told AFP.

"So there is a great gap between the aspirations of the policy and the actual capabilities that exist now."

US space shuttle Atlantis is shown launching from pad 39A in July 2011 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the final flight of the shuttle program, a 12-day mission to the International Space Station. High-profile critics fear President Obama's commercial overhaul of human spaceflight is going nowhere and could mark the end of half a century of US supremacy among the stars and planets.

A ticket on the Soyuz capsules to the ISS costs global space agencies between $50 million and $60 million each.

Former astronaut Eugene Cernan, who commanded the flight and was the last man to walk on the Moon in 1972, said Constellation has been replaced by a "mission to nowhere" and urged NASA to return to the Moon.

Under intense congressional pressure from both his fellow Democrats and rival Republicans, the White House has agreed to develop sooner than planned a heavy-lift launch vehicle for deep human space exploration dubbed the Space Launch System. But financing and other details remain vague.

NASA is focusing especially on deploying the SLS to explore asteroids around 2025, remaining vague on plans to visit Mars and mute on a return to the Moon.

Worried about the course taken by NASA, Cernan said that "today, we are on a path of decay. We are seeing the book close on five decades of accomplishment as the leader in human space exploration."

Republican Representative Ralph Hall, the chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, agreed.

"If NASA doesn't move out quickly, more and more of our industrial base, skilled engineers and technicians, and hard-won capabilities are at risk of withering away," Hall said.

The 2012 budget request for human exploration through 2016 is only 38 percent that requested for 2007, or $50 billion less.

"The current administration’s view of our nation’s future in space offers no dream, no vision, no plan, no budget, and no remorse," said former NASA administrator Michael Griffin.

"The resulting turmoil when this is plainly seen by all will, without doubt, further impede progress in , and poses a major risk for this nation."

NASA has consistently rejected such criticism, arguing, like Obama, that the Constellation plan was over budget, behind schedule and lacking in innovation.

Spokesman David Weaver described the vision laid out by the president at the Kennedy Space Center in April 2010 as "bold" and said it would "one day allow the first astronauts to set foot on Mars."

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User comments : 19

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dogbert
1 / 5 (13) Oct 03, 2011
Former NASA administrator Michael Griffin's comment is succinct and definitive:
The current administrations view of our nations future in space offers no dream, no vision, no plan, no budget, and no remorse
omatumr
1 / 5 (21) Oct 03, 2011
Nixon and Kissinger apparently traded away US supremacy in the space program in 1971, as announced on 5 Jan 1972 [1], to avoid the threat of mutual nuclear annihilation by agreeing to adopt:

a.) The Bilderberg solar modal of a stable, homogeneous H-fusion reactor "in equilibrium" [2], and

b.) The threat of anthropogenic global climate change as the "common enemy"

To unite nations [3].

The combined forces of world leaders with leaders of the scientific community have zero chance of controlling the Great reality [4], even with armies of government scientists!

1. Claud Lafleur, No More Dreams, Mr. President

http://claudelafl...ams.html

2. The Bilderberg solar model, Solar Physics 3, 5-25 (1968)
http://adsabs.har....3....5G

3. O. Manuel, "Deep roots of the climate scandal (1971-2011)"

http://dl.dropbox...oots.pdf

4. C G Boberg, "The Great Reality" (1885)

www.youtube.com/w...vJiyeLIo

OKM
Noumenon
3.4 / 5 (79) Oct 03, 2011
What's the point of the space station any way,.. to see how duck quacks in space. Right now, being $14 trillion in debt, "space exploration" is something that can be put on the back burner imo. Personally, I think the space station is little more than a play thing that Americans have become bored with. I would fund only fundamental research (energy sources) until the economy is back on track, and cut this pie-in-the-sky sensationalism that is a mission to mars and such non-sense. Armstrong is trying to protect his era as it's becoming obsolete.
juztmythoughtz
4 / 5 (8) Oct 03, 2011
omatumr vs Noumenon: battle of the trolls?

omatumr: no, they stopped the space program because of you and big oil and gas and the KGB and Osama and Saddam and the Rolling Stones and the Easter Bunny and the cops that arrested you. You are all to blame
Friggin loon
Physorg, please please please please ban this troll

Noumenon: Once experience is gone there's no getting it back. Did you actually bother to READ the article?
"If NASA doesn't move out quickly, more and more of our industrial base, skilled engineers and technicians, and hard-won capabilities are at risk of withering away
Noumenon
3.4 / 5 (79) Oct 03, 2011
Did you bother reading my post or are you the troll? I said Invest such experience and $ in more fundamental research that is relavent to current needs and it won't "go away". The colossall amount of money it takes to get to mars is not worth the effort right now, as there is nothing to be learned that is not already known about mars,...and technological development could be gained in other ways.

Once experience is gone there's no getting it back.
Meaningless nonsense.
Vendicar_Decarian
4.6 / 5 (14) Oct 03, 2011
"What's the point of the space station any way,.." - Noumen

It gave the space shuttle something to do.
GDM
5 / 5 (2) Oct 03, 2011
Neil is wrong on one point. Commercial flights to the ISS will begin next year. He is correct when he says it is an embarrasing state, as NASA has had at least a decade to come up with something better that the Constellation program, which was WAY over budget and would never perform as promised. We don't need super-heavy lift rockets. Existing Atlas and Delta class rockets will do fine. If we really want to go back to the moon or go to mars, we need space-based construction, using lunar materials and fuel (LH2, LOX), and fuel depots in LEO, GEO and Lagrangian orbits. The only thing a super-heavy lift rocket will get us is another plant-the-flag exercise, with nothing left to show for our efforts afterwards except perhaps bragging rights and a deeper deficit. Better to build the infrastructure outside our gravity well and have something useful to show for our efforts, and something to keep building on.
Ethelred
4.6 / 5 (10) Oct 03, 2011
The Spammer strikes again. How many threads this time?

SO since you bring up Kissinger again, just how did that letter you linked to support your idiotic claim? What, besides the insane raving of whackjobs, supports you claim of a bizarre counter productive conspiracy, supported by EVERY SINGLE president since and including Nixon. Not everyone is as evil as you are Oliver. Few are. Trying to paint everyone in government as evil like this is not going to change what you did.

So just how do Neutron Stars form when neutron repulsion is alleged by you to be so powerful that it stops Black Holes from forming no matter how large the mass?

Ignoring the question won't magically make you right Oliver. The ideas are contradictory and I bet even the Plasma Universe Cranks can see that now that it has been pointed out.

Join The Cause. Force Physorg To Enforce Their Own Rules On Oliver.

COUNTER SPAM OLIVER NOW.

Ethelred
Standing Bear
1 / 5 (3) Oct 04, 2011
Hey da gang's awlll here. All we need now is Ayn Randy and the John Bitch sosighety. What we really need is a nuclear booster, small size for a single stage to space engine that can 'do it' again and again just like a true space shuttle. But the antinoook trolls will shoot that down in a heartbeat just like the did in the SST. Chinese will build this and launch it...and defy the world to stop them. Like Stalin said once "How many divisions does ???? have?"
ShotmanMaslo
4 / 5 (4) Oct 04, 2011
Yeah, this is funny, it should be the opposite way. Senate under fire over proposing to waste 25 billions for a not needed expensive rocket to nowhere a decade in the future at best, while ULA and SpaceX are already flying rockets and spacecrafts.

Lobbyists and shortsighted politicians unite! The jobs program must go on!
Ethelred
4.3 / 5 (6) Oct 04, 2011
The purpose of NASA is space and aeronautics. Their job is to do things private industry sucks at. A heavy lift vehicle or a single stage to orbit are exactly the kind of thing that NASA should be doing.

None of the new private space businesses were created to make a real profit. So far they are all done by people with LOTS of money a strong desire for space travel. NASA is the main source of money for them at present.

The fact is that BUSH not Obama seriously damaged NASA by killing off all the attempts to replace the space shuttle. Not that Obama would have done anything different as he also has no clue as to what drives people to want space travel.

Ethelred
jsdarkdestruction
3 / 5 (2) Oct 04, 2011
Oliver, do you not know of phase 2 of the plan? see kissinger and nixon knew about neutron repulsion and it being the main source of the suns and the universes power but chairman mao did not. as the world all followed their lead in the conspiracy they said it was to prevent nuclear war. however under the guise of that the united states had different reasons. as the climatoligists/scientists destroy our economy and power while funneling money to third world nations for supportung the scam the chinese will soon grow too strong and overpopulated for anyone but the us to even have a chance of stopping the chinese from taking over the world, at that moment neutron repulsion will be officially "discovered" and cheap easy neutron repulsion energy will be used both to power production of weapons and supplies and as weapons of mass destruction themselves in neutron repulsion bombs. saving the united states and allowing us to finally take over the whole world without looking like the bad guys...
ShotmanMaslo
3 / 5 (4) Oct 04, 2011
The purpose of NASA is space and aeronautics. Their job is to do things private industry sucks at. A heavy lift vehicle or a single stage to orbit are exactly the kind of thing that NASA should be doing.


None of which are needed. Also, SpaceX or ULA are better suited to develop a HLV, IMHO.

NASA should be building payloads, not launching them.

None of the new private space businesses were created to make a real profit. So far they are all done by people with LOTS of money a strong desire for space travel. NASA is the main source of money for them at present.


At least in launch business, DoD and private satellites are also big part of the market, enough to keep ULA and SpaceX afloat without NASA.

Ethelred
3.8 / 5 (4) Oct 04, 2011
None of which are needed.
That is your oppinion not a fact.

Also, SpaceX or ULA are better suited to develop a HLV, IMHO.
Not so humble. Neither are working with hydrogen which is a better fuel than kerosene. Unfortunatly it is hard to work with.

NASA should be building payloads, not launching them.
Again that is an opinion that is not based on what NASA was created for. Devoloping new engines is exactly part of what it is supposed to do.

enough to keep ULA and SpaceX afloat without NASA.
I don't know ULA but SpaceX has a NASA contract. The DOD could just as easily buy more Deltas and Titans which are proven vehicles.

IF SpaceX succeeds in making a reusable rocket THEN they will have something that is VERY worthwhile BUT if NASA had been allowed to do its job we would have one already. The ideology that private business is the right way to do everything damaged NASA as much a poor choice of managment by people that preferred ideology to results.

Ethelred
ShotmanMaslo
4 / 5 (4) Oct 04, 2011
Not so humble. Neither are working with hydrogen which is a better fuel than kerosene. Unfortunatly it is hard to work with.


ULA does work with hydrogen, it is used on Delta IV.

Hydrogen it better? I dont think so. Kerosene has bigger energy density, and can be used on a HLV just as well.

Again that is an opinion that is not based on what NASA was created for. Devoloping new engines is exactly part of what it is supposed to do.


NASA current purpose is to "pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research". Launching stuff to orbit is not pioneering anything.
LastTechage
3 / 5 (1) Oct 04, 2011
Actually, NASA has used private launchers for years - there are no NASA Manufacturing plants anywhere. SpaceX really thinks it can perform, but where will finaces come from? US spent $100 G three times now and discarded it (lasttechage.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/farewell-american-manned/). SpaceX would need the same investment for success.
Nanobanano
3 / 5 (3) Oct 08, 2011
The only thing a super-heavy lift rocket will get us is another plant-the-flag exercise, with nothing left to show for our efforts afterwards except perhaps bragging rights and a deeper deficit.


You are RIGHT.

Actually, the entire ISS program has been little more than a "plant the flag" exercise.

There was never any potential for real profitability.

Counting some some materials sciences technologies discovered along the way is not fair, because those discoveries probably would have happened eventually anyway.

So basically, the ISS is a 100 billion dollars piece of crap with no real value and no way to ever pay for itself.

Not that it matters, because 100 billion dollars is only what? 14th of our annual deficits now.

Why should I complain about the waste of money on the ISS over a decade?

That's peanuts compared to the total deficits at the state, federal, and local levels in the U.S. with NOTHING to show for it...
Nanobanano
3.8 / 5 (4) Oct 08, 2011
We spend so much money on the military it's ludicrous.

We just wiped out Libya's entire AA and most of the ground units in two days using one aircraft carrier and I think 3 or 4 destroyers, and they couldn't even land one shot against our stuff.

That's 4 or 5 ships vs an entire country using soviet era technology, and we didn't even have ships armed with our new lasers and rail guns present at the battles...

Why the hell do we need 600 of these ships?

Who the hell does the congress and military think we are going to be fighting with that much weaponry?

Do they know of an space aliens invasion coming or something similar that they aren't telling the public? I mean my God, that's ridiculous.
HarshMistress
1 / 5 (3) Oct 08, 2011
Who the hell does the congress and military think we are going to be fighting with that much weaponry?

Everybody. PNAC means fighting everybody, "pax americana" means figting everybody.