The ‘S’ in NASA

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It stands for space, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This week, some people wonder whether it means sensitivity. Relatively few folks, actually…

Like those who are aware of President Obama’s commission to the new NASA director, and who maybe question what the space administration has to do with geopolitics.

But among major media….nada on NASA?

As for me, I intended to blog in mourning back when Obama defunded the program, because I’ve been a lifelong NASA follower, fascinated by space expeditions and eager to see it go further. When I was in grade school, I wrote in to ask politely for a photograph of an astronaut, if it were possible. What I received was breathtaking…..a large brown envelope that held a stack of 8×10 personally autographed color photos of each member of a team of astronauts, some already famous and some yet to be (but who would figure prominently in future missions). Wow.

Then when Tom Hanks did ‘Apollo 13’, the film rendering of the dramatic events astronaut Jim Lovell chronicled so well in his book Lost Moon….I was privileged to be invited to the premiere, met Lovell and got his autograph on my copy of the book, feeling very much the little girl I’d returned to in the moment.

So last February, I was crushed when news came out that Obama was drawing down the program.

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama is canceling NASA’s current space shuttle replacement- and lunar exploration-plan and is prepared to fight any congressional effort to save it, the nation’s top budget official said Jan. 31. 

The president’s budget, officially sent to Congress Monday morning, confirms what officials had stated during a teleconference with reporters one day before: White House Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag and White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer stated Obama’s plan to kill NASA’s Constellation program, a five-year-old effort to replace the aging space shuttle fleet with new rockets and spacecraft optimized to return astronauts to the Moon.

These links are from stories I saved at the time to use here, but never got to. (It pays for a journalist to be fastidious.)

Eclipsed in Monday’s news of President Obama’s proposed $3.8 trillion budget – with its $100 billion marked for jobs creation and increased taxes on the rich – is the grounding of NASA’s program to return to the moon.

The budget, if passed by Congress, would scuttle funding the Constellation program, with its goal of returning a manned mission by 2010 to the moon, the site of NASA’s greatest achievement, the Apollo missions of the late ’60s and ’70s.

“We are proposing canceling the program, not delaying it,” Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said in a conference call with reporters.

The White House drafted a space advisory panel to review the beleaguered Constellation program, which deemed the project unable to get out of orbit without a hefty $3 billion annual increase to its operational budget. The budget also shot down the planned Ares I rocket, the planned successor to the space shuttle, Reuters reported.

It was all over the media at the time, and I stored link after link.

American astronauts will not return to the moon as planned if Congress passes President Obama’s proposed budget…

On its Web site, the White House Budget Office says the program to send astronauts to the moon is behind schedule, over budget and overall less important than other space investments.

“Using a broad range of criteria, an independent review panel determined that even if fully funded, NASA’s program to repeat many of the achievements of the Apollo era, 50 years later, was the least attractive approach to space exploration as compared to potential alternatives,” the site says.

So now we know what one of the primary alternatives was for President Obama.

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