Orion Crew Capsule Is Back In The Budget, But Only As An
President Barack Obama spoke to about 200 people at NASA's
Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, saying that he is "100 percent
committed to the future of NASA." The President had a mockup of the
Orion crew capsule as a backdrop for the speech, which earlier this
week he decided should be back in the NASA budget as an escape
vehicle for ISS.
Obama said that he does not see a return to the moon as an
appropriate step to further space exploration. "We've been there
before…there is a lot more of space to explore."
The Orlando Sentinel reports that Obama said that NASA would
finalize a rocket design by 2015, and then build it. "That's at
least two years earlier than the previous program [Constellation]
..that was behind schedule and over budget," he said. He went on to
say that he expects that manned spacecraft will be orbiting Mars by
the mid 2030's, with manned landings planned shortly after.
Joined on the podium by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and
former Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Obama defended himself
against some who had as recently as this week criticized his approach to human spaceflight.
"The bottom line is that no one is more committed…to human
spaceflight than I am. But we've got to do it different."
Orion Artists Concept
The Los Angeles Times reports that Obama plans to put and
additional $6 billion into the NASA budget over the next several
years. Still, he expects private companies to take over the
business of shuttling astronauts and cargo to ISS. "Space
exploration is not a luxury, not an afterthought in America's
brighter future," he said. "It is an essential part of that quest.
What we are looking for is not just to continue on the same path.
We want to leap into the future, we want major breakthroughs, a
transformative agenda for NASA."
After the speech, Obama toured the SpaceX launch complex 40,
where the company is readying the Falcon 9 heavy lift rocket for a
test flight in the next few months, as well as the Dragon cargo
module which SpaceX says could be converted into a manned
spacecraft fairly easily.
SpaceX Dragon Artists
While some aerospace jobs in Florida and Texas will be lost
under President Obama's new plan, senior administration officials
continue to say that it will add 2,500 more jobs than the
Constellation program would have.