Obama’s Second Term and the National Future in Space

President Barack Obama discusses his plans and ambitions for NASA during an address at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Jim Grossman

The relationship between space exploration and politics is a complicated one. The President is the only person who can pick a major goal like going to the Moon, but proposals that big have to go through congress for funding. To make sticking to big goals more complicated, each incoming president has the power to change major decisions made by his predecessor in space. With a president having two terms in office, it’s more likely his vision for space will be realized but it’s far from a sure bet. It’s possible that Obama’s second term will get us closer to seeing NASA’s mammoth SLS rocket flying the Orion spacecraft to the Moon, but history tells us that the constant rotation in the White House has a way of stopping big ideas before they get started.

Comments

  1. Roberta Villavecchia says

    Since I left Apollo, or more accurately thanks to Nixon, Apollo left me, I have given up any hope of major manned spaceflight initiatives ever again surviving the revolving door of politics.

  2. Jasper says

    Those were two really good articles and a good read.
    I really appreciate your view here, a lot of people – and that includes almost all politicians, unfortunately don’t seem to grasp the idea of the need for a long term program.
    “To govern is to look ahead”, is a saying with a lot of truth in it, but which is actually most of the time completely overlooked.

  3. says

    Nice article. You worry about NASA making huge proposals that often get cancelled because of their huge costs. Better would be for NASA to think small. Back in 1993 there was a proposal to return us to the Moon for 1/10th the cost of the Apollo missions. It did this by using just a small two man capsule and just using the currently existing launchers, no huge Saturn V or Ares V required:

    Early Lunar Access.
    http://www.astronautix.com/craft/earccess.htm

    This plan can be implemented now with just two launches of the Delta IV Heavy, or by single launches of the upcoming Falcon Heavy or SLS. Indeed following this approach can return us to the Moon by the 50th anniversary of the Apollo missions.
    According to this article there is a commercial plan to make such a return:

    Exploration Alternatives: From Propellant Depots to Commercial Lunar Base
    November 15th, 2012 by Chris Bergin
    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/11/exploration-alternatives-propellant-depots-commercial-lunar-base/

    From the description quite likely they will be following a small, low cost approach similar to the ELA approach if not exactly the same.

    Bob Clark

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