KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — President Obama in effect pulled the plug on our space program in a speech here Thursday, although he masked it with some vague long-term suggestions. The late president John F. Kennedy must have turned over in his grave. JFK launched the moon landing program in the 1960s because he understood that any nation that wants to remain No.1 on Earth must also be No. 1 in space.
We are now No. 2 behind Russia and soon may be No. 3 behind China. Even India and Brazil are developing ambitious space programs.
Obama’s proposal not only abandons our space shuttle, he also has no timetable or real plan for what he says ultimately will send humans to Mars. Obama doesn’t seem to care that soon we will have to hitchhike rides with the Russians just to get our astronauts to the International Space Station.
Unfortunately, some political and business leaders in Florida are buying the Obama plan because it may provide a few jobs for some of those thousands who will be unemployed here when the shuttle program ends. That should not be the most important of our nation’s concern.
Fortunately, some of those who pioneered our space program get it. Neil Armstrong, the first human to step on the moon, called the Obama plan “devastating”.
Obama’s proposal is all about money priorities and our inexcusable war costs, not about peaceful world leadership. His proposed budget for 2011 makes that clear:
- •Wars: $159.3 billion.
•Space: $19 billion.
That suggests Obama thinks that wars in places like Afghanistan and Iraq are nearly 10 times more important than exploring the last frontier in space.
I voted for Obama for president. But.
Feedback: Other views on Obama space plans
“Today, for the first time, a U.S. president has purposefully ceded leadership on the space frontier to others. We can only hope that Congress will ‘just say no’. “
—Michael Griffin, NASA administrator, 2005-09
“Developing breakthrough space technologies to more quickly achieve far-reaching goals is crucial to America’s leadership, but we also need focused schedules and challenging destinations.”
— James Oberg, a veteran of Mission Control and now an author
AmericaSpace Note: Oops, we forgot to link to Neuharth’s editorial.