Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Presidential Candidates' Space Proposals Followup

So I mentioned a few days ago that Barack Obama had announced he was going to study ways to provide more funding for NASA (and therefore ways to conserve jobs in a stretch of Florida important to the campaigns). Well, he didn't waste any time, and on Saturday released a very detailed plan outlining his goals for NASA and how he plans to accomplish them. In short, he plans to provide options for additional shuttle missions after the currently planned 2010 retirement date, he plans to speed up the Constellation program to get the new CEV (crew exploration vehicle) up sooner, and he plans to cooperate with industry and other nations to facilitate this.

It looks like a good plan, but of course, it requires money. Obama's proposal is to provide NASA with an additional $2 billion. After reading much of the plan and skimming the rest, I saw nothing on where this money would come from. But that is NASA's everlasting quandary; how much money do you spend on exploration when there are homeless children to feed and terrorists to be fought? Still I hope it happens. As we saw in the 60s, a sense of exploration can be a great thing.

After that was released, McCain criticized Obama of "saying different things at different times to different people," and in doing so, changing his position on NASA (which, as I previously mentioned, he did). However, such a detailed position paper as the one Obama released when there had only been brief mention of NASA in the past seems like a pretty solid thing. We'll see if he actually has the interest to find the funding for his proposals. And on McCain's part, he claimed to be a longtime supporter of NASA with a proven track-record.

As for their track records, McCain just last year voted against $1 billion in additional funding for NASA, and was the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation when the US gap in manned space travel was created. Obama, to my knowledge, hasn't had the opportunity to vote on issues directly affecting NASA, so we have little way of knowing how serious his support really is. Take everything with a grain of salt.

But hey, here's Obama on the issue of Star Trek. There's always that.

Progress: 4.03%  Flight Time: 0:06:05

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