Opinion

The Great Debate

Time for the space vision thing

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida – My head is spinning as I sit here waiting for President Obama to do what should have been done when the White House rolled out its budget for NASA: do the vision thing.

I have faith in POTUS to deliver the goods and explain his revolutionary approach to space exploration.

Here are a few things to remember as you watch the speech and listen to the spin:

The dramatic job loss that has so many people riled is not the result of the Obama White House shift in space. The shuttle retirement was actually set in stone by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. The shuttle fleet could fly on longer – each orbiter is rated to fly 100 flights – but the CAIB decided that it was time to move on to the next thing in space. Something safer.

Obama is also not responsible for the so-called “gap” between the shuttle and whatever is next. The gap is an artifact of inattention and meager funding over several years. Even before the CAIB gave us a date certain for retiring the shuttles, we knew the fleet could not – and should not – fly forever. And yet no one on either end of Pennsylvania Avenue had the persistence and forethought to insist the investment in a new ride be healthy and timely enough to give U.S. astronauts seamless access to space on U.S. vehicles once the orbiters were chalked and pickled in museums. George Bush painted a vision for space exploration that was bold and exciting – but it never got the funding it needed to get off the ground.

from Commentaries:

Chocs away! Cadbury’s snack will be terribly expensive

It's been a long, long wait for the shareholders in Cadbury. For a profitless decade since the (adjusted) price first hit six pounds, they have been hoping for someone to come along and take their sweets away on the sort of terms they saw being offered to others.

Now the boys (and girl) from Kraft have decided that putting cheese slices together with Dairy Milk chocolate presents an irresistible opportunity. Cadbury had slimmed down by demerging Dr Pepper, its also-ran US soft drinks business. Investors had heard Todd Stitzer, the chief executive, say he wanted to be a consolidator in FMCG, rather than get eaten, and they had decided that he might be right. There was little in Friday night's price of 568p for a possible takeover.

Swallowing smaller competitors is more fun for the management, but tends to leave the shareholders feeling hungry. When Mars decided to add chewing gum to Snickers, it paid a massive premium for Wrigleys. Bernstein Research, the sector leader, calculates the price at 19.5 times EBITDA, which makes Kraft's $16.7 billion cash and shares offer for Cadbury look several chunks short of a full bar.

  •