Barack Obama space policy speech at Kennedy Space Center

Barack Obama space policy speech at Kennedy Space Center

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The space policy of the Barack Obama administration was announced by U.S. President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 on April 15, 2010, at a major space policy speech at Kennedy Space Center. He committed to increasing NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 funding by $6 billion over five years and completing the design of a new heavy-lift launch vehicle by 2015 and to begin construction thereafter. He also predicted a U.S. crewed orbital Mars mission by the mid-2030s, preceded by an asteroid mission by 2025. In response to concerns over job losses, Obama promised a $40 million effort to help Space Coast
Space Coast
The Space Coast is a region in the U.S. state of Florida around Kennedy Space Center , where NASA launched space shuttles until the last one on July 8th, 2011 at 11:29am; and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, site of unmanned civilian and military space launches...

 workers affected by the cancellation of the Space Shuttle program
Space Shuttle program
NASA's Space Shuttle program, officially called Space Transportation System , was the United States government's manned launch vehicle program from 1981 to 2011...

 and Constellation program.

The Obama administration's space policy was made subsequent to the final report of the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee
Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee
The Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee was a group reviewing the human spaceflight plans of the United States...

, which it had instituted to review the human spaceflight
Human spaceflight
Human spaceflight is spaceflight with humans on the spacecraft. When a spacecraft is manned, it can be piloted directly, as opposed to machine or robotic space probes and remotely-controlled satellites....

 plans of the United States in the post-Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 era. The NASA Authorization Act of 2010
NASA Authorization Act of 2010
The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 is a U.S. law which authorizes NASA appropriations for fiscal years 2011–2013 with the same top-line budget values as requested by President of the United States Barack Obama...

, passed on October 11, 2010, enacted many of the Obama administration's space policy goals.

Background


In November 2007, the Obama presidential campaign
Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2008
Barack Obama, then junior United States Senator from Illinois, announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States in Springfield, Illinois, on February 10, 2007. On August 27, 2008, he was declared nominee of the Democratic Party for the 2008 presidential election...

 released a policy document delaying NASA's Constellation program by five years to fund education programs. There was concern that any delay would prolong the gap after the Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

's retirement, when the US would be dependent on the Russian government for access to the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

. Other presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, 2008
New York junior Senator and former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton had expressed interest in the 2008 United States presidential election since at least October 2002, drawing media speculation on whether she would become a candidate. No woman has ever won the nomination of a major party in the...

, did not support the delay.

In January 2008, the Obama campaign revised its position, supporting the immediate development of the Crew Exploration Vehicle
Crew Exploration Vehicle
The Crew Exploration Vehicle was the conceptual component of the U.S. NASA Vision for Space Exploration that later became known as the Orion spacecraft...

 and the Ares I
Ares I
Ares I was the crew launch vehicle that was being developed by NASA as part of the Constellation Program. The name "Ares" refers to the Greek deity Ares, who is identified with the Roman god Mars...

 rocket to narrow the gap. However, the new policy was silent on the heavy lift Ares V
Ares V
The Ares V was the planned cargo launch component of the Constellation program, which was to have replaced the Space Shuttle after its retirement in 2011. Ares V was also planned to carry supplies for a human presence on Mars...

 rocket and missions beyond low Earth orbit
Low Earth orbit
A low Earth orbit is generally defined as an orbit within the locus extending from the Earth’s surface up to an altitude of 2,000 km...

.

Obama gave the first major space policy speech of his campaign in Titusville, Florida
Titusville, Florida
Titusville is a city in Brevard County, Florida in the United States. It is the county seat of Brevard County. Nicknamed Space City, USA, Titusville is on the Indian River, west of Merritt Island and the Kennedy Space Center and south-southwest of the Canaveral National Seashore...

 in August 2008. He subsequently approved a seven-page space plan that committed to target dates for destinations beyond low Earth orbit:
Obama was noted for "having offered more specifics about his plans for NASA than any U.S. presidential candidate in history", but his record on keeping his campaign promises
Election promise
An election promise is a promise made to the public by a politician who is trying to win an election. They have long been a central element of elections and remain so today...

 has been mixed.

Augustine Commission


The Obama administration instituted the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee, also known as the Augustine Commission, to review the human spaceflight
Human spaceflight
Human spaceflight is spaceflight with humans on the spacecraft. When a spacecraft is manned, it can be piloted directly, as opposed to machine or robotic space probes and remotely-controlled satellites....

 plans of the United States after the time NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 had planned to retire the Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

. Their goal was to ensure the nation is on "a vigorous and sustainable path to achieving its boldest aspirations in space." The review was announced by the Office of Science and Technology Policy
Office of Science and Technology Policy
The Office of Science and Technology Policy is an office in the Executive Office of the President , established by Congress on May 11, 1976, with a broad mandate to advise the President on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs.The director of this office is...

 (OSTP) on May 7, 2009. The report was released on October 22, 2009.

The Committee judged the 9 year old Constellation program to be so behind schedule, underfunded and over budget that meeting any of its goals would not be possible. The President removed the program from the 2010 budget effectively canceling the program. One component of the program, the Orion crew capsule was added back to plans but as a rescue vehicle to complement the Russian Soyuz in returning Station crews to Earth in the event of an emergency.

In its final report, the Committee proposed three basic options for exploration beyond low Earth orbit
Low Earth orbit
A low Earth orbit is generally defined as an orbit within the locus extending from the Earth’s surface up to an altitude of 2,000 km...

, and appeared to favor the third option:
  • Mars First, with a Mars landing, perhaps after a brief test of equipment and procedures on the Moon.
  • Moon First, with lunar surface exploration focused on developing the capability to explore Mars.
  • A Flexible Path
    Flexible path
    The flexible path is a set of destinations for further manned space exploration in the inner Solar System proposed in the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee of 2009 and was envisioned as alternative to the Moon-first and Mars-first approaches.In 2010 president Barack Obama...

     to inner solar system locations, such as lunar orbit, Lagrange points, near-Earth objects and the moons of Mars, followed by exploration of the lunar surface and/or Martian surface.


In his April 15, 2010 space policy speech at Kennedy Space Center announcing the administration's plans for NASA, none of the 3 plans outlined in the Committees final report were completely selected. The President rejected immediate plans to return to the Moon on the premise that the current plan had become nonviable. He instead promised $6 billion in additional funding and called for development of a new heavy lift rocket program to be ready for construction by 2015 with manned missions to Mars orbit by the mid-2030s.

Space policy speech at Kennedy Space Center


Attendees included current NASA administrator and Obama appointee Charles Bolden
Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
Charles Frank "Charlie" Bolden, Jr. is the current Administrator of NASA, a retired United States Marine Corps major general, and former NASA astronaut....

, Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin is an American mechanical engineer, retired United States Air Force pilot and astronaut who was the Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing in history...

, Representative Suzanne Kosmas
Suzanne Kosmas
Suzanne M. Kosmas is the former U.S. Representative for , serving from 2009 until 2011. She is a member of the Democratic Party...

 (D-FL), Senator Bill Nelson
Bill Nelson
Clarence William "Bill" Nelson is the senior United States Senator from the state of Florida and a member of the Democratic Party. He is a former U.S. Representative and former Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner of Florida...

 (D-FL), and Representative Sheila Jackson Lee
Sheila Jackson Lee
Sheila Jackson Lee is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1995. The district includes most of inner-city Houston. She is a member of the Democratic Party.-Early life and education:...

 (D-TX), among others.

Modification of Orion


Obama announced the modification of the Orion capsule
Orion (spacecraft)
Orion is a spacecraft designed by Lockheed Martin for NASA, the space agency of the United States. Orion development began in 2005 as part of the Constellation program, where Orion would fulfill the function of a Crew Exploration Vehicle....

 from its original purpose as a crewed spacecraft for flights to the ISS and the Moon into an emergency escape capsule
Crew Return Vehicle
The Crew Return Vehicle , sometimes referred to as the Assured Crew Return Vehicle , is the proposed lifeboat or escape module for the International Space Station...

 for the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

, reducing American reliance on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Destinations


The new policy changes from Vision for Space Exploration
Vision for Space Exploration
The Vision for Space Exploration is the United States space policy which was announced on January 14, 2004 by President George W. Bush. It is seen as a response to the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the state of human spaceflight at NASA, and a way to regain public enthusiasm for space...

 and Constellation program Moon-first approach to a variety of destinations resembling the flexible path
Flexible path
The flexible path is a set of destinations for further manned space exploration in the inner Solar System proposed in the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee of 2009 and was envisioned as alternative to the Moon-first and Mars-first approaches.In 2010 president Barack Obama...

 approach:
Obama promoted the idea of a crewed mission
Manned mission to Mars
A manned mission to Mars has been the subject of science fiction, engineering, and scientific proposals throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century...

 to orbit Mars by the mid-2030s with a landing as a follow-up:

Reliance on commercially operated launch vehicles


In a major shift in the function of NASA in American human spaceflight, the Obama administration proposal would rely solely on launch vehicle
Launch vehicle
In spaceflight, a launch vehicle or carrier rocket is a rocket used to carry a payload from the Earth's surface into outer space. A launch system includes the launch vehicle, the launch pad and other infrastructure....

s designed, manufactured, and operated by private aerospace companies, with NASA paying for flights for government astronauts, much like the way private space tourism company Space Adventures
Space Adventures
Space Adventures, Ltd. is a Virginia, USA-based space tourism company founded in 1998 by Eric C. Anderson. , offerings include zero-gravity atmospheric flights, orbital spaceflights , and other spaceflight-related experiences including cosmonaut training, spacewalk training, and launch tours...

 bought Soyuz flights from the Russian government for space tourists.

Prior to the speech, Obama toured the launch facilities surrounding the SpaceX
SpaceX
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or more popularly and informally known as SpaceX, is an American space transport company that operates out of Hawthorne, California...

 Falcon 9
Falcon 9
Falcon 9 is a rocket-powered spaceflight launch system designed and manufactured by SpaceX. Both stages of its two-stage-to-orbit vehicle use liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene propellants...

 launch vehicle with CEO Elon Musk
Elon Musk
Elon Musk is an American engineer and entrepreneur heritage best known for co-founding PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors. He is currently the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors and Chairman of SolarCity...

 which has received NASA funding through the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services
Commercial Orbital Transportation Services
Commercial Orbital Transportation Services is a NASA program to coordinate the delivery of crew and cargo to the International Space Station by private companies. The program was announced on January 18, 2006...

 program and could loft NASA astronauts under the new plan. In the speech, Obama referenced the maiden flight of the Falcon 9, which launched successfully less than one and a half months after the speech:

Extension of ISS operations


Obama also announced an extension of funding for International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

 operations, 90% complete by mass at the time of the speech but scheduled to be deorbited by as early as 2015 before Obama announced the extension, which will provide funding through 2020.

Heavy-lift launch vehicle


In the speech, Obama announced the development of the Shuttle-Derived Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle
Shuttle-Derived Launch Vehicle
Shuttle-Derived Launch Vehicle, or simply Shuttle-Derived Vehicle , is a term describing one of a wide array of concepts that have been developed for creating space launch vehicles from the components, technology and/or infrastructure of the Space Shuttle program. SDVs have also been part of...

 (HLV) to replace the planned Ares V
Ares V
The Ares V was the planned cargo launch component of the Constellation program, which was to have replaced the Space Shuttle after its retirement in 2011. Ares V was also planned to carry supplies for a human presence on Mars...

, with the design planned for completion by 2015, two years prior to the Constellation plan, and construction commencing thereafter:

Support


Prior to the speech, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk released a statement praising the proposal and criticizing Senators who had opposed it and former NASA administrator Michael Griffin
Michael D. Griffin
Michael Douglas Griffin is an American physicist and aerospace engineer. From April 13, 2005 to January 20, 2009 he served as Administrator of NASA, the space agency of the United States...

:
Apollo 11
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

 astronaut Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin is an American mechanical engineer, retired United States Air Force pilot and astronaut who was the Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing in history...

 released a statement in support of the plan via the White House on February 1, prior to the announcement of the 2011 federal budget
2011 United States federal budget
The 2011 United States federal budget is the United States federal budget to fund government operations for the fiscal year 2011, which is October 2010–September 2011. The budget is the subject of a spending request by President Barack Obama...

, which included the changes Obama announced in the speech:

Criticism


Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong
Neil Alden Armstrong is an American former astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, United States Naval Aviator, and the first person to set foot upon the Moon....

, Jim Lovell
Jim Lovell
James "Jim" Arthur Lovell, Jr., is a former NASA astronaut and a retired captain in the United States Navy, most famous as the commander of the Apollo 13 mission, which suffered a critical failure en route to the Moon but was brought back safely to Earth by the efforts of the crew and mission...

, and Eugene Cernan, commanders of Apollo 11
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

, Apollo 13
Apollo 13
Apollo 13 was the seventh manned mission in the American Apollo space program and the third intended to land on the Moon. The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST. The landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the service module upon which the Command...

, and Apollo 17
Apollo 17
Apollo 17 was the eleventh and final manned mission in the American Apollo space program. Launched at 12:33 a.m. EST on December 7, 1972, with a three-member crew consisting of Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 remains the...

 respectively, said:
  • "When President Obama recently released his budget for NASA, he proposed a slight increase in total funding...the accompanying decision to cancel the Constellation program, its Ares 1 and Ares V rockets, and the Orion spacecraft, is devastating."
  • "It appears that we will have wasted our current ten plus billion dollar investment in Constellation and, equally importantly, we will have lost the many years required to recreate the equivalent of what we will have discarded."
  • "For The United States, the leading space faring nation for nearly half a century, to be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destines our nation to become one of second or even third rate stature. While the President's plan envisages humans traveling away from Earth and perhaps toward Mars at some time in the future, the lack of developed rockets and spacecraft will assure that ability will not be available for many years."


Robert Zubrin
Robert Zubrin
Robert Zubrin is an American aerospace engineer and author, best known for his advocacy of the manned exploration of Mars. He was the driving force behind Mars Direct—a proposal intended to produce significant reductions in the cost and complexity of such a mission...

, President of The Mars Society and whose book The Case for Mars
The Case For Mars
The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must is a nonfiction science book by Robert Zubrin, first published in 1996....

first proposed a Shuttle-derived heavy lift vehicle named Ares, lambasted Obama's plans in the New York Daily News
New York Daily News
The Daily News of New York City is the fourth most widely circulated daily newspaper in the United States with a daily circulation of 605,677, as of November 1, 2011....

:
  • "Under the Obama plan, NASA will spend $100 billion on human spaceflight over the next 10 years in order to accomplish nothing"
  • "Obama called for sending a crew to a near Earth asteroid by 2025. ... Had Obama not canceled the Ares 5
    Ares V
    The Ares V was the planned cargo launch component of the Constellation program, which was to have replaced the Space Shuttle after its retirement in 2011. Ares V was also planned to carry supplies for a human presence on Mars...

    , we could have used it to perform an asteroid mission by 2016. But the President, while calling for such a flight, actually is terminating the programs that would make it possible."
  • "With current in-space propulsion technology, we can do a round-trip mission to a near-Earth asteroid or a one-way transit to Mars in six months ... Holdren claims that he wants to develop a new electrically powered space thruster to speed up such trips. But without gigantic space nuclear power reactors to provide them with juice, such thrusters are useless, and the administration has no intention of developing such reactors."
  • "Without the skill and experience that actual spacecraft operation provides, the USA is far too likely to be on a long downhill slide to mediocrity."

Video





Subsequent developments


The Obama administration released its new formal space policy on June 28, 2010.

The NASA Authorization Act of 2010
NASA Authorization Act of 2010
The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 is a U.S. law which authorizes NASA appropriations for fiscal years 2011–2013 with the same top-line budget values as requested by President of the United States Barack Obama...

, passed on October 11, 2010, authorized funds for NASA for fiscal year 2011-2013, and enacted many of his stated space policy goals. A total of $58 billion in funding is called for, spread across three years.

The 2011 budget legislation
2011 United States federal budget
The 2011 United States federal budget is the United States federal budget to fund government operations for the fiscal year 2011, which is October 2010–September 2011. The budget is the subject of a spending request by President Barack Obama...

, passed in April 2011, officially terminated the Constellation program. The passage of the budget frees NASA to start working on the new initiatives.

In September 2011, details were announced of the Space Launch System
Space Launch System
The Space Launch System, or SLS, is a Space Shuttle-derived heavy launch vehicle being designed by NASA, following the cancellation of the Constellation Program, to replace the retired Space Shuttle. The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 envisions the transformation of the Ares I and Ares V vehicle...

, a Shuttle-Derived Launch Vehicle
Shuttle-Derived Launch Vehicle
Shuttle-Derived Launch Vehicle, or simply Shuttle-Derived Vehicle , is a term describing one of a wide array of concepts that have been developed for creating space launch vehicles from the components, technology and/or infrastructure of the Space Shuttle program. SDVs have also been part of...

 being developed by NASA as a replacement for the Ares I and Ares V rockets of the Constellation program.

See also

  • Space policy of the United States
    Space policy of the United States
    The Space policy of the United States includes both the making of space policy through the legislative process, and the execution of that policy by both civilian and military space programs and by regulatory agencies. The early history of United States space policy is linked to the US–Soviet...

  • Special Message to the Congress on Urgent National Needs - John F. Kennedy
    John F. Kennedy
    John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

    's May 25, 1961 speech to Congress
  • Vision for Space Exploration
    Vision for Space Exploration
    The Vision for Space Exploration is the United States space policy which was announced on January 14, 2004 by President George W. Bush. It is seen as a response to the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the state of human spaceflight at NASA, and a way to regain public enthusiasm for space...

     (2004)
  • Constellation program (2005)
  • Shuttle-Derived Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle
    Shuttle-Derived Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle
    The Shuttle-Derived Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle, also known as the High Confidence Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle is an alternate launch vehicle proposal for the NASA Constellation program...

     (2009)
  • Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee
    Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee
    The Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee was a group reviewing the human spaceflight plans of the United States...

     (2009)

External links