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Orion may live on in simpler design

America has been the leading spacefaring nations on the planet since the early days of space travel. The U.S. put the first man on the moon and continued to lead the world in exploration and space travel. President Obama unveiled a new budget for NASA in February that dealt many of its space flight programs a serious blow including ambitious plans for putting American's back on the moon.

Obama has already cut funding for the Constellation program along with the funding that would allow for the completion of the Orion crew capsule that would take astronauts to the ISS after the space shuttle fleet is retired. Many in Washington and at NASA have been calling for Obama to clarify his plans for NASA.

Obama is going to talk at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida about his plans for NASA and human spaceflight. The 
New York Times quotes an unnamed Obama administration official saying, "[The president will describe a plan] that unlocks our ambitions and expands our frontiers in space, ultimately meaning the challenge of sending humans to Mars."

Obama is reportedly going to propose a simpler version of the Orion capsule to be used as a lifeboat for the ISS. Obama is also expected to announce a commitment to choosing a design for a heavy-lift rocket by 2015. The official added, "This means major work on the heavy-lift rocket at least two years earlier than Constellation."

One of the big concerns is that the budget cuts will mean thousands of people working in the space industry in Florida and other states are facing layoffs. The 
Wall Street Journal reports that 7,000 workers at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida are facing layoff with the new budget. Concessions made to allow for a simpler version of Orion will allow 2,000 of those jobs to be saved.

NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver said, "He's [Obama is] putting a lot of political capital into it. Human spaceflight is a huge priority of this president."

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RE: the letters
By Reclaimer77 on 4/14/2010 3:49:48 PM , Rating: 3
Obama's proposal isn't a plan at all - it's just a statement of principal: "private industry should lead human space exploration."

Which is amazing to me. Considering as how he doesn't want the private industry leading our banking, automotive, health care, employment, transportation etc etc industries. But going into space ?? Yeah apparently THAT is something the private industry should lead.

RE: the letters
By ekv on 4/14/2010 4:57:30 PM , Rating: 2
Damn. That's exactly it.

I was just thinking that the other day. Why the heck would he put "private industry" on point here? Traditionally, NASA has been the leader here and conversely private industry has been the leader in banking, etc. Now that has been flipped topsy-turvy, bass-ackwards. People did vote for change ... [they just didn't realize that meant getting pennies on the dollar].

Space exploration is a minuscule market in comparison to banking, automotive and health care. 'Take over the big stuff first. Worry about the peons later....' That kind of attitude.

Don't get me wrong. I'd love to see private industry flourish. But they aren't quite there yet and NASA is in position to (at least) continue world leadership. I don't think there is any other gov't program that has been as successful as space exploration -- lots of hi-tech derivatives making lots of money. Etc.

There's no guarantee but NASA has in the past been worth the investment.

RE: the letters
By cmdrdredd on 4/14/2010 5:11:26 PM , Rating: 2
Space exploration is a minuscule market in comparison to banking, automotive and health care. 'Take over the big stuff first. Worry about the peons later....' That kind of attitude.

Right, private companies won't invest here because there is no return on their investment. There is no product to sell. Sure maybe you could say "government contract" like the military, but just the research alone would be outrageously expensive and no self respecting businessman would take the risk to invest billions even with partners. This isn't like building a car people will buy, or a new computer chip for a phone that you could sell to companies directly. This is a pure scientific research and exploration. There has never been much profit there. Just ask any research scientist why they don't live in million dollar mansions.

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
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