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Obama Says NASA Suffering 'A Sense Of Drift'

Agency Needs An "Appropriate" Mission... And An Administrator

During an interview this week with the Los Angeles Times, President Barack Obama gave his opinion on NASA's current vision... or rather, the lack of same.

Saying the space agency now suffers from "a sense of drift," Obama told the paper what NASA needs is a "mission that is appropriate for the 21st century."

As ANN reported, Obama's FY2009 budget for NASA -- signed into law Wednesday -- allocated $18.7 billion to NASA in fiscal year 2009, representing an increase of $2.4 billion over FY2008 figures. The budget package calls for the retirement of the space shuttle program in 2010, renewed exploration of earth's moon, and sending more robotic probes to previous unexplored areas of our solar system.

Those ambitious projects are temporarily on hold, however, until Obama appoints a new administrator for the agency. The last person to hold the job, Michael Griffin -- appointed to the role in 2005 by President Bush -- handed in his resignation days before of Obama's inauguration.

"Shaping a mission for NASA that is appropriate for the 21st century is going to be one of the biggest tasks of my new NASA director," Obama said. "What I don't what NASA to do is just limp along. And I don't think that's good for the economy in the region either."

Obama says he will name that new NASA administrator soon... one able "to think through what NASA's core mission is and what the next great adventures and discoveries are under the NASA banner."

For the past two months, NASA Associate Administrator Christopher Scolese has overseen the agency's day-to-day operations. Several names have been floated as possible candidates for the top job... including former astronaut Charles F. Bolden, and retired USAF General J. Scott Gration.

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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