Policies Range From More Money Now, To Less Money Later
A sidebar to the stories in the
general media about Tuesday's Texas presidential primary and state
caucus is the attention the campaigning has drawn to NASA. The
policies of the next president are important to Texas voters, and
the topic is one of the few on which the candidates have relatively
On Monday, the Houston Chronicle summarized the positions of the
various campaigns for its readers, and here, in a nutshell, is what
they've been saying in their stump speeches.
On the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton recently told the
Chronicle that, as a young girl, she wanted to become an astronaut,
but received a letter back from NASA at the time saying, "...they
weren't taking any girls."
Clinton adds she wants to pursue an ambitious space agenda, she
recently voted in favor of a Senate bill to add a billion dollars
to NASA's budget in 2008, and claims former US Senator John Glenn
as an advisor. Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth in
1962, and the oldest person ever to fly in space in 1998, when he
flew aboard the shuttle Discovery.
In contrast, Barack Obama has worked to clarify his policy on
the space agency, after he originally said he wanted to delay
NASA's Constellation program by five years to divert money to
education programs, then said he wanted to reduce the five-year
span currently planned between the retirement of the shuttle fleet
in 2010, and the first flights of Orion in 2015.
Obama now says he wants to develop Orion on or ahead of
schedule, but delay sending humans to Mars or back to the moon to
save money. The Clinton campaign is trying to paint that position
Among the Republicans, Mike Huckabee says another $2 billion
should be allocated to shorten the gap between the shuttle fleet's
2010 retirement, and Orion's first flight in 2015, by two
Texas Congressman Ron Paul -- whose presidential campaign has
been largely ignored in much of the eastern US, but who is hugely
popular in his home state -- says we could do more for NASA if we
weren't spending so much money overseas.
Arizona Senator John McCain, the probable Republican nominee for
President, says NASA needs to do a better job prioritizing its
expenditures, but calls investment in manned spaceflight very
important. He admitted to the Chronicle that he has been, "...very
enamored of Mars... since I was a child."
Jeff Foust, editor of the blog SpacePolitics.com, tells the
Chronicle it probably won't matter to NASA, or its operations in
Houston, who wins the election. Regardless of who assumes the White
House, he predicts, "...they continue funding NASA at roughly the
same level because that level of spending in absolute dollars and
as a percentage of the overall budget seems to be a fairly stable,