Thursday, January 28, 2010

Unnamed Official Confirms Constellation Program Will Be Canceled.

Courtesy of the AIAA news-roundup.

The Orlando Sentinel (1/28, Block) reports, "Administration officials and a former astronaut on Wednesday called President Obama's plans for NASA 'exciting' and 'bold,' saying he was replacing a failed moon program with a new $6 billion project to develop commercial rockets capable of taking astronauts into orbit." The plan, described by an unnamed White House and NASA official and Augustine Commission member Sally Ride, would see an annual increase to NASA's budget over the next five years. At the teleconference, the "NASA official stressed that just because the Constellation program to return humans to the moon and its Ares I and Ares V rockets were going to be canceled did not mean that the Obama administration was abandoning exploration and human spaceflight." However, when questioned, "officials repeatedly dodged the question of what plans the administration had for a heavy-lift rocket."
        However, Florida Today (1/28, Halvorson) notes "Obama's space plan will be a hard sell in Congress. Even ardent Obama supporters and some key space advisers are taken aback." Sen. Bill Nelson warned the plan would "decimate the space program," while Rep. Bill Posey called the plan a "slow death" for NASA's manned spaceflight program. In contrast, the unnamed NASA official said it was a "serious, serious effort" to reduce the manned spaceflight gap after the shuttle program ends. The St. Petersburg Times (1/28, Leary) notes in an article about the reaction to Obama's State of the Union address, reports Nelson said, "On the downside, we're going to have to get the president to do more for NASA. America's global leadership in science and technology is at stake if we don't maintain a more robust space exploration program."
        Meanwhile, FOX News (1/27, Clark) reports, "Marty Hauser, vice president of Washington operations for the Space Foundation, an advocacy group, said that while the proposal would hurt in the short term, it does have the potential to create jobs in the long term if the objective is to privatize space flight." However, the article notes "Republican lawmakers wasted no time in blasting the president." Industry leaders also reportedly "expressed dismay" over a potential budget freeze for NASA, according to some previous reports. Louis Friedman, executive director of the Planetary Society, said, "I think NASA's value as an economic engine for the country is long understood in theory, long underplayed in Congress.
        Bolden Discusses NASA's Future In Israel. In an article titled "'An Israeli Astronaut? There May be No More Astronauts At All!,'" the Israel National News (1/28, Kempinski) posted a video of NASA Administrator Charles Bolden speaking to the press at the Ilan Ramon International Space Conference. "Bolden related to a number of exciting topics in the field of space and beyond. In the following video the NASA Chief discusses the option of sending another Israeli astronaut into space, the mission of saving the planet from asteroids, and commercial flights to the moon."
        End Of Constellation Raises New Questions. Popular Mechanics (1/27, Pappalardo) gives "a breakdown of the some questions to ask during the aftermath of the apparent collapse of the United States' human space flight program." These include questions like who would benefit from the shift in NASA budget priorities, whether the Defense Department will be the "heir" to NASA, and if astronauts are "going extinct" among others. Furthermore, "Without the appeal of a human flight program, will fewer aspiring scientists and engineers be lured into the agency and towards military and private space? Will the research end of NASA suffer from this lack of inspirational purpose? What are the geopolitical ramifications, if any, of this waning of American power?"

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