Obama Unveils Space Policy

Senator Barack Obama has unveiled his official space policy:

Historically, the U.S. space program has inspired people the world over with its feats on behalf of all humankind. This leadership can continue; indeed, the Bush administration set an ambitious agenda for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), but has since failed to provide adequate funding or leadership to move forward with that agenda. As a result, key programs have suffered. Poor planning and inadequate funding are leading to at least a five-year gap after the retirement of the Space Shuttle. During those years, the United States will have to depend on foreign rockets and spacecraft to send Americans to orbit. NASA has had to slash its research budget, including its aeronautical research, its programs to study climate change, microgravity research that can yield new technologies, and even the robotic exploration of the outer solar system and the universe beyond. Many other countries are moving forward in space; the United States cannot afford to fall behind.

All in all, this is pretty much the status quo with a promise of a little more funding. That’s not altogether a bad thing, as I think NASA’s got some pretty ambitious plans. Still, some change beyond moving around some space bureaucracy–especially regarding liberalizing commercial space flights–would have been welcome.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Science & Technology, , ,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. dutchmarbel says:

    As I recall he wanted to cut NASA budget in favour of funding for education earlier, so this is an improvement.

  2. I think this provides McCain an opportunity to draw a stark contrast in opening up space for private sector space programs.

  3. Christopher says:

    Hilarious! So according to nObama and the democrats, Bush is not only responsible for problems in our own country and the world, but now is responsible for the failure of outer space? Incredible!

    What is not so surprising is Alex writing about it. Dude, maybe you can write a comic book about nObama’s adventures in space? (Published in Comic Book Resources??? Wow, that just heightened your credibility as a political writer with me 110%. NOT!)

  4. Alex Knapp says:

    yetanotherjohn,

    I think this provides McCain an opportunity to draw a stark contrast in opening up space for private sector space programs.

    That would be lovely, but McCain’s voting record on space issues doesn’t make that seem all that likely. We’ll see though.

    Christopher,

    Published in Comic Book Resources??? Wow, that just heightened your credibility as a political writer with me 110%. NOT!)

    Because god forbid that a person have any interests outside of politics, right? Why, everybody knows that cloying yourself onto a one thing your whole life is how you make yourself a better person, not having a wide range of interests and hobbies. I have no doubt that you have one and only one activity in your life that you adhere to, with no other interests whatsoever. If only we could all be that single-minded….

  5. Christopher says:

    Alex,

    I don’t have anything against comic books. Read them a lot, before I grew into an adult. Now I like to read books w/o pictures.

    But hey, I know you liberals need something to occupy your minds, and I suppose that comic books fill that intellectual void you might (might) be feeling.

  6. Alex Knapp says:

    Christopher,

    Hallelujiah! I have seen the light! I will now mock the artistic choices of everybody who doesn’t like the same things I do! Apparently, according to you, that’s how a person knows they’re an adult.

    I’m sure that’s in the Bible somewhere…

  7. Tlaloc says:

    Still, some change beyond moving around some space bureaucracy—especially regarding liberalizing commercial space flights—would have been welcome.

    Because private industry has done such a bang up job with planes and trains?

  8. Bithead says:

    Because private industry has done such a bang up job with planes and trains?

    Please. I know quite a bit about rail history. WHat you suggest is like holding up Grey-Out Davis as a shining example of deregulation of the power folks, or as I’ve said before, an example of how Oil supposedly operates in a free market, too. To use ‘free market’ in your description of those situations is to defy all the accepted meanings of the words.

    What failed was not private enterprise or free markets. What failed was government intervention.

    At what point was private industry running trains, after the civil war? They have been run by the government and the unions for well over a century.

  9. Alex Knapp says:

    Bithead,

    You’re right on the money vis a vis railroads, though you didn’t mention what really nailed the coffin shut on passenger rail: the interstate highway system, the biggest government boondoggle of all time.

  10. Tlaloc says:

    To use ‘free market’ in your description of those situations is to defy all the accepted meanings of the words.

    Where exactly in my comment did you find the term “free market” because I keep looking and I don’t see it.

  11. Christopher says:

    Alex,

    Reading comic books is an “artistic choice”? Artistic? Huh?

    ’nuff said.

  12. Bithead says:

    You’re right on the money vis a vis railroads, though you didn’t mention what really nailed the coffin shut on passenger rail: the interstate highway system, the biggest government boondoggle of all time.

    True. I gotta tell you though, I’ve often wondered if the highway system woulda gone quite so far if the rail system hadn’t been so totally f’d up by the government and the unions.

    Where exactly in my comment did you find the term “free market” because I keep looking and I don’t see it.

    To blame “private industry” assumes a marketplace free of governmental intrusion.

  13. Brian says:

    Reading comic books is an “artistic choice”? Artistic? Huh?

    Yeah, as un-artistic as The Dark Knight, Road to Perdition, and 300.

    How is much of modern graphic novel art different than say the Norman Rockwell art of The Saturday Evening Post? Or, hell, any of the twentieth century regionalists?

    And to try to make Alex feel badly for sharing his hobby with like-minded others? And to think that you’re clever by completing an easy search on him, to find something personal to twist your knife into?

    I feel badly for you, Christopher, your facade of “adulthood” has worn thin.

    Your first-grade bullying has revealed the rotten, broken, and shabby structure within.

    And you willingly shared it with us.

    I am truly sorry.

  14. Tlaloc says:

    To blame “private industry” assumes a marketplace free of governmental intrusion.

    No, it quite simply doesn’t. All it requires is that there be a private industry that has ^%$#ed up, which is, you know, exactly what I said.

    Your contention would make it impossible to ever criticize private industry because you never have real free market conditions- it is a fiction. A theoretical abstraction that does not occur in reality.

  15. Tlaloc says:

    Re comics-

    There are plenty of vapid comics out there. This is no different than soap operas or “she’s the sherrif” style comedies on TV.

    Christopher’s error is in assuming that the shallowness of most comics is a fault of the medium.

    It isn’t. The medium can be used excellently, indeed artistically. The Sandman story arc by Neil Gaiman is fine english literature. Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller) is a wonderful dystopian story that really embodies the bleakness of 1980s america. Just examples of the medium used very well indeed.

  16. Bithead says:

    No, it quite simply doesn’t. All it requires is that there be a private industry that has ^%$#ed up, which is, you know, exactly what I said.

    That’s like blaming someone who was a bus passenger on Tuesday, for an accident that occurred on Friday. THe connection of private industry to the failure isn’t even secondary. THey were not in control of the bus. Government was.

    Your contention would make it impossible to ever criticize private industry because you never have real free market conditions- it is a fiction.

    Correct, it would, and rightly so. Which would, in it’s gturn, tend to restrict governmental intervention, wouldn’t it? Explain to me how that’s a bad thing, remembering I don’t worship on theh altar of government as you seem to here.

    Government is always so quick to take credit for stuff that goes right in the busienss community when they intervene in the natural order of things… but by your lights, they can never be lamed when they screw up. Sorry, that’s not going to wash. If government is running the sjow, place the blame for faiilures on government where it belongs.

    And you know…a free market could exist, if we could ever get government out of the way.

  17. dutchmarbel says:

    It isn’t. The medium can be used excellently, indeed artistically. The Sandman story arc by Neil Gaiman is fine english literature. Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller) is a wonderful dystopian story that really embodies the bleakness of 1980s america. Just examples of the medium used very well indeed.

    Palestine, Maus, V for Vendetta, When the wind blows, The arrival….. there are many very very good graphical novels. Thinking that words are better suited to expressing idea’s than pictures is a sign of either inexperience or a limited imagination.

    The advantage we had when the government was solely responsible for (public) transport was that they tended to pay more money into the ‘invisible necessities’ (maintenance, investing in the rails the train use, etc.). After privitization investments tended to be in lucrative but not core business. Isn’t that what happened with the energy suppliers in California a few years back?

    There are area’s where I like privatization, but transport on the whole is not one of them.

  18. Tlaloc says:

    THe connection of private industry to the failure isn’t even secondary. THey were not in control of the bus. Government was.

    Tell you what, I’ll concede that private companies aren’t at fault in the rail lines if you’ll concede that they are at fault in the airlines. I did mention both in my original post, you know.

    Correct, it would, and rightly so. Which would, in it’s gturn, tend to restrict governmental intervention, wouldn’t it?

    Preventing any criticism of private industry means less government intrusion? I’m not seeing how you get that. All I see that it accomplishes is to turn prvate industry into more of a psychopathic mess than it is already.

    Government is always so quick to take credit for stuff that goes right in the busienss community when they intervene in the natural order of things… but by your lights, they can never be lamed when they screw up.

    I find your argument ironic since you’re the one demanding that one party never be criticized…

    And you know…a free market could exist, if we could ever get government out of the way.

    Possibly for a nanosecond, that’s the halflife on a truly free market before it disappears under the explosion of monopolies and other market distorting forces.

    A free market is the most unstable thing imaginable bithead. Like communism, it relies on everyone to follow the rules, which they of course don’t.

  19. Tlaloc says:

    Damn! How did I forget V for Vendetta?

  20. Christopher says:

    Tlalloc,

    How did you forget that?!? And you being such a big Star Trek fan and all.

  21. Tlaloc says:

    *shrug*

    If you choose to disregard an entire medium that’s up to you. I’m not sure why you think anyone else will regard your narrow mindedness as cool, though.

    In other words, if you want to cut yourself off from experiences that could help you develop a richer life there’s no reason for the rest of us to care. We aren’t going to stage an intervention to help you Chris.

  22. Bithead says:

    Tell you what, I’ll concede that private companies aren’t at fault in the rail lines if you’ll concede that they are at fault in the airlines. I did mention both in my original post, you know.

    No deal. Do you realy expect me to ignore that the government is doing to airlines what it did to rail travel? The FAA is the FRA with jet engines.

    A free market is the most unstable thing imaginable bithead

    And how would you know since the test cannot be made?

    Like communism, it relies on everyone to follow the rules, which they of course don’t.

    You miss the point that they don’t under the current system, either. So, what do we lose by getting government out of the way? Oh, right. Governmental power. Beyond that…

    find your argument ironic since you’re the one demanding that one party never be criticized…

    If you really think that, then you clearly haven’t been reading me very closely.