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.