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  [Discussion] Presidential space conference (4/15) (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   [Discussion] Presidential space conference (4/15)
Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-07-2010 10:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
White House release
President Obama to Host Space Conference in Florida in April

On April 15, President Barack Obama will visit Florida to host a White House Conference on the Administration’s new vision for America’s future in space, the White House today announced.

The President, along with top officials and other space leaders, will discuss the new course the Administration is charting for NASA and the future of U.S. leadership in human space flight. Specifically, the conference will focus on the goals and strategies in this new vision, the next steps, and the new technologies, new jobs, and new industries it will create. Conference topics will include the implications of the new strategy for Florida, the nation, and our ultimate activities in space.

Further logistical details will be announced as they become available.

After an independent review panel found that the previous program to return astronauts to the Moon was fundamentally un-executable, the President included an additional $6 billion for NASA in his FY2011 budget over the next five years. This funding will help us achieve our boldest aspirations in space. The President’s ambitious new strategy pushes the frontiers of innovation to set NASA on a more dynamic, flexible, and sustainable trajectory that can propel us on a new journey of innovation and discovery.

The President and the NASA Administrator both believe that we have to be forward thinking and aggressive in our pursuit of new technologies to take us beyond low-Earth orbit. The President’s plan does this.

A foundational element of this new strategy is to invest in the development of a targeted set of inter-related technologies and capabilities that can help us travel from the Earth’s cradle to our nearby Solar System neighborhood in a more effective and affordable way, thus laying the foundation to support journeys to the Moon, asteroids, and eventually to Mars.

After years of underinvestment in new technology and unrealistic budgeting, the President's plan will unveil an ambitious plan for NASA that sets the agency on a reinvigorated path of space exploration.

News coverage:

chet
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posted 03-07-2010 05:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Question is, is the Administration going to be open to new ideas here, or will this be just a PR dog and pony show with no open-mindedness about where things are going?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-07-2010 07:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Question is, is the Administration are all parties attending this conference going to be open to new ideas here, or will this be just a PR dog and pony show with no open-mindedness about where things are going?

There, corrected that for you.

413 is in
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posted 03-07-2010 08:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 413 is in   Click Here to Email 413 is in     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, do you have any info on whether or not cleanroom bunny suits are required attire for attendance at this event? If so, will they be provided at the door? Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Fra Mauro
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posted 03-08-2010 10:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A very astute political move. FDR used fireside chats, this President uses these group meetings. Pretend you care and that makes people melt. I would be shocked if the move to kill Constellation is a negotiable point.

chet
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posted 03-08-2010 12:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maybe a better way to put my original question: With mounting (if not already overwhelming) opposition* to his plans for NASA, will the President be going the reconciliation route if Congress refuses to go along with him in deciding to kill Constellation?

(*Though we haven't seen an official poll yet, there is this, albeit unscientific, indication of what people think of the "new direction" for NASA.)

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-08-2010 12:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If our leaders followed what most polls (scientific or otherwise) conducted over the past few decades have concluded about what the majority of the American public wants for NASA, then the space agency's budget would have been slashed decades ago and any talk of going to the Moon, Mars or even bolstering commercial spaceflight would have been outlawed until all our problems are solved on Earth first.

I would also argue that most of those campaigning for or against the President's plan are doing so primarily for personal reasons -- everything from self preservation (i.e. jobs) to a sense of self-mortality (i.e. wanting to see their desired result before they die) rather than having a thorough comprehension of all the factors involved, let alone choosing the best path for the long term future of spaceflight.

But to address your specific question...

quote:
Originally posted by chet:
...will the President be going the reconciliation route if Congress refuses to go along with him in deciding to kill Constellation?
As Congress' own counter-proposal does not include restoring Constellation, it would seem that is no longer the primary concern.

And then there's this:

"There's not a single case where a major cancellation in the space program has been overturned by external lobbying," says space historian John Logsdon, former director of George Washington University's Space Policy Institute. "Congress defers to presidents on space because you can't run a space program from Capitol Hill."
I expect that the President will use the conference to further define specific goals and milestones for his vision for NASA. I believe if there is a Congressional compromise, it will focus primarily on accelerating heavy-lift development while still supporting commercial crew and cargo services.

SpaceAholic
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posted 03-08-2010 01:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"There's not a single case where a major cancellation in the space program has been overturned by external lobbying," says space historian John Logsdon, former director of George Washington University's Space Policy Institute.
None of the preceding programs has to contend with the Internet and proliferation of blogs...

chet
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posted 03-08-2010 03:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
I would also argue that most of those campaigning for or against the President's plan are doing so primarily for personal reasons...
So your implication is that most "comprehending" people without a particular self-interest (keeping a job, a nostalgic joy ride) should be able to see that the "new direction" plan is the best long term plan for future spaceflight? I think Schmitt, Jones, Cernan and Cunningham, and if I may venture just a bit, Armstrong, (among many others), don't quite agree with that view.
quote:
If our leaders followed what most polls (scientific or otherwise) conducted over the past few decades have concluded about what the majority of the American public wants for NASA, then the space agency's budget would have been slashed decades ago
The polls I cited aren't scientific, and weren't meant to reflect popular opinion of the general public, but of those who are more interested and follow more closely the goings on of NASA and space exploration in greater detail.
quote:
As Congress' own counter-proposal does not include restoring Constellation, it would seem that is no longer the primary concern.
As I've stated elsewhere, Constellation isn't my primary concern either; rather, it is the realistic funding of clearly defined non-nebulous goals for keeping America in the forefront of space exploration. The Bush administration (and too many others preceding it) failed in the financing department; the Obama administration is so far failing in the same, AND the "non-nebulous" department as well.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-08-2010 04:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by chet:
So your implication is that most "comprehending" people without a particular self-interest (keeping a job, a nostalgic joy ride) should be able to see that the "new direction" plan is the best long term plan for future spaceflight?
No, that is not what I wrote; I was referring specifically to the polls and the numbers represented therein...
quote:
...weren't meant to reflect popular opinion of the general public, but of those who are more interested and follow more closely the goings on of NASA and space exploration in greater detail.
And you know this how? The link you provided looked at the membership of different Facebook groups, which have no barrier to entry and very often are joined simply because an invitation is received.

chet
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posted 03-08-2010 04:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
The link you provided looked at the membership of different Facebook groups, which have no barrier to entry and very often are joined simply because an invitation is received.
So Facebook groups with (pro-Constellation) names like: "Save NASA's Constellation and Manned Space Flight Program, "Support NASA and the Space Program", "Support the NASA Constellation Program", "Save America's Space Program", "Save NASA!", "Save the Utah Aerospace Economy", and (pro-New Direction) names like "New Direction", "NASA Watch Facebook", "Commercial Spaceflight Federation", "Commercial Space Place", "Commercial Space Travel", "SpaceX" and "Next Step In Space" are made up of folks no more interested in all things space than the general population?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-08-2010 04:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by chet:
...are made up of folks no more interested in all things space than the general population?
Well, let's see, I just went to one of the pro-Constellation groups, and clicked through the membership until I found the first person who didn't restrict their profile to just their "friends." It didn't take very long.

That person didn't belong to NASA's own Facebook group (a group you'd think would draw a space-interested individual), but did join "If this group reaches 200,000 people, I'll do a pole dance on camera!", "R.I.P Billy Mays," and "Support Texas Sovereignty."

Now to be fair, that person could be a dyed-in-the-wool space supporter or he could just be someone who received an invitation to join the group from a friend of a friend who he may have met once at a party. The point is, there's no way to tell. Facebook groups aren't just unscientific, they lack any qualification whatsoever.

Add to that a complete lack of data of how each group was promoted, and you can write off any comparison between membership counts as totally without meaning.

chet
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posted 03-08-2010 05:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't mean to nitpick (or make your job harder than it already is, or more than I already do....) but (anecdotally, granted) I join online groups tangential to any "real" interests of mine not very infrequently, but even casually joining an "Eating in L.A." group before joining "Nova Scotia Whale Watching" indicates an interest greater than the population at large. Additionally, the collective numbers in these groups is many many thousands....I wouldn't say this is a numerical sample that could be simply tossed aside as meaningless. (But if you think it still is, how then to explain the very correlative majority of those here at cS who mirror nearly the same result)?

cjh5801
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posted 03-08-2010 05:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cjh5801   Click Here to Email cjh5801     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From the names of the various Facebook groups, they appear to be pretty much self-selecting. Just joining pretty much signals where the person's sympathies lie. For example, the fact that someone thinks the Space program needs to be saved means that he or she must feel that it is currently in jeopardy.

Regardless of the numbers, this makes the groups worthless as a signifier of anything--If nothing else, we know nothing about the general population of Facebook that would allow us to place the numbers in context.

chet
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posted 03-08-2010 05:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No more "self-selecting" than voting in a poll; how does that render the (rather strong) trend meaningless? And if so, how do you respond to the last question I posed in my prior post? (And to the nearly same margin by all astronauts who've made their opinions on the subject known?)

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-08-2010 05:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by chet:
But if you think it still is, how then to explain the very correlative majority of those here at cS who mirror nearly the same result?
Because it doesn't, or at least it doesn't necessarily: the majority you speak of is only those who have chosen to speak out, a very tiny fraction of our readership, let alone membership.

I've received e-mails from a number of members who support the plan but have no interest engaging in a public debate.

Still, that doesn't represent a majority either way.

I've investigated what it would take to do a qualified poll here on collectSPACE and it would cost several hundred dollars to implement, not to mention a significant investment of my time. I am not sure if I see a return worth that work and money.

quote:
Originally posted by chet:
And to the nearly same margin by all astronauts who've made their opinions on the subject known?
By my count, the astronauts are more or less even in their opinion. On one side you have Cunningham, Cernan, Carpenter, Duke, Borman, Precourt and maybe Armstrong (he didn't speak publicly so we have no idea what he said). On the other, you have Aldrin, Bowersox, Culbertson, Chiao, Searfoss and Ride (not to mention, of course, Bolden, Whitson and others still inside NASA who have spoken in support of the plan). There may be others left out from either list, but there is no clear majority.

chet
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posted 03-08-2010 06:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I certainly don't expect a cS poll when it means taking on the work and expenses you've outlined; it's not necessary.

Nor did I mean to imply anything other than what I've written, i.e. acknowledging the results I tallied of the respondents here as completely unscientific. But the fact that the results aren't scientific also doesn't mean any noticeable trends are necessarily baseless either.

But given the comments by the astronauts who've chosen to speak out however, along with many other indicators out there (all be they unscientific), it seems a bit implausible to continue asserting that we have no real sense of where most people come down on the subject overall.

Are that many really so "off" in seeing things a certain way?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-08-2010 06:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by chet:
Are that many really so "off" in seeing things a certain way?
No, they are not "off," they want the same thing as those supporting the President's plan want: a bold manned space program. The two sides have much more in common than what separates them, they just need to meet (literally and figuratively) and better understand their differences.

BNorton
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posted 03-08-2010 08:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BNorton   Click Here to Email BNorton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Question is, is the Administration are all parties attending this conference going to be open to new ideas?

By the remarks made by the Administrator, and by the way in which the plan was announced by the Administration - just like one would do to employees when closing a facility, etc. - the answer is "NO."

issman1
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posted 03-09-2010 04:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Most online campaigns are notoriously biased. I wonder what the real agenda behind these really are? Let me guess... whipping-up more anti-Obama sentiment and preserving the status quo (perhaps)?

A high-level summit has been convened, so wait and hear what is said.

moorouge
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posted 03-09-2010 06:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by chet:
I think Schmitt, Jones, Cernan and Cunningham, and if I may venture just a bit, Armstrong, (among many others), don't quite agree with that view.
I can't vouch for the others, but I think to include Armstrong is stretching your point much too far.

I posted Armstrong's views on a return of manned flights beyond LEO on the other Constellation thread. This he rules out until his 'four curves' align. They are, in the present domestic and international climate, a long way from converging.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-09-2010 06:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by moorouge:
I posted Armstrong's views...
I don't think Chet was referring to your mention of Armstrong, but rather Jay Barbree's reference on MSNBC that Armstrong reportedly called Bolden out of concern.

Apollo Redux
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posted 03-09-2010 10:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo Redux   Click Here to Email Apollo Redux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I hope the Americans who value maintaining a leadership role in space exploration, see this for what it is.

Another opportunity for the wordsmith to espouse about nothing substantive.

chet
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posted 03-09-2010 01:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
Most online campaigns are notoriously biased. I wonder what the real agenda behind these really are?
I don't mean to come off as mocking, but are you really unable to tell the "agendas" of individuals or groups, even when they're being all but explicit?

EVERYONE is biased -- which is just a synonym for opinionated, after all, so what exactly is "notorious" about that?

All we should ever care about is that people be honest/transparent about their views; show me a person with no biases and I'll show you a computer.

cspg
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posted 03-22-2010 01:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cartoonist Jeff Parker weighs in on Obama space plan.

jimsz
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posted 03-22-2010 08:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jimsz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The first point of discussion is how will NASA be funded with the massive increase in government spending over the next 10 years for healthcare.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-22-2010 09:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA will be the funded the same way it has been funded for the past 50+ years: through annual budget allocations.

The nation didn't stop running when there was an increase in government spending over a ten year period to fund the Apollo program, nor will it do so as a result of the current legislation.

SpaceAholic
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posted 03-22-2010 10:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is no corollary for what Congress has done with the health care bill (it terms of its ramifications to the economy).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-23-2010 02:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Since neither party in the House or Senate are talking about a need to cut NASA in light of health care reform passing, it would appear that our elected officials disagree that this is a topic of concern. In fact, both Republicans and Democrats have called for an increase to NASA's budget.

328KF
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posted 03-25-2010 09:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'll say upfront that this is opinion mixed with speculation, but the writer makes some good arguments for a possible compromise in the works.

The image of the President arriving on Air Force one is a powerful one. Tagging that photo with an "Obama Arrives at KSC To Kill Manned Space Program" caption would no doubt hurt his chances with Florida voters in a few years.

I'm not saying that to in any way make a statement regarding his decision. Rather, I agree with Cowing that this is all a political game, and Florida is a critical state in any presidential election.

Given the outcry of opposition to the cancellation of Constellation, the resulting gap seemingly becoming indefinite, and the devastating job loss to come at KSC, Obama needs to do something here to remain viable in Florida voters' minds.

This is one "town hall" that I can't wait to see, so I certainly hope he doesn't decide to close the doors once again.

Jay Chladek
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posted 03-26-2010 09:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, I agree something is potentially up. What exactly is not known. It will certainly be an interesting three weeks or so leading up to this presidential visit.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-09-2010 08:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden provided some details about the April 15 conference on Thursday:
As the plan is laid out right now, I think I can share that he actually plans to have some private moments with members [of Congress] who will be there for the conference, he then plans to deliver a major space policy speech and, hopefully, convince everybody... that he's dedicated to exploration and human space flight.

And then, as it's planned right now, there will be several round table or panel discussions, breakouts on a number of topics that have to do with the programs in the proposed budget so that we can get some feedback from people who attend the conference and we have an opportunity for learned people to share their insights.

jimsz
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posted 04-09-2010 09:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jimsz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This will end up being a large photo-op to keep the voters in Florida happy. It's not about "space". It's about "votes".

Nothing substantive will come of it other than setting minor goals to keep people employed through the next election.

cspg
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posted 04-09-2010 09:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
...so that we can get some feedback from people who attend the conference...
Feedback from who? From the ones who will benefit from the new policy in which case it's indeed a photo-op, or from the ones who do not agree with the policy? I'm more and more confused about the purpose(s) of this summit - wake me up (or not) on the 16th.

cspg
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posted 04-10-2010 01:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Obama is to spend two hours at Kennedy Space Center, from landing to take-off.

There is no space summit.

Delta7
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posted 04-10-2010 01:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
But will there be beer?

jhtech2
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posted 04-10-2010 04:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jhtech2     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
On one side you have Cunningham, Cernan, Carpenter, Duke, Borman, Precourt and maybe Armstrong (he didn't speak publicly so we have no idea what he said).
A notable one that may have slipped your minds in the above list and in Chet's list of opponents to the President's proposals include, on this important anniversary, Captain James Lovell! Another important one is Jack Schmitt. Important because he's been connected with fusion research. And also because both of the last crew members to have experienced the surface of the moon are adamant against the proposals.

That small list of current astronaut corps supporters of the proposals, though, may have a flawed premise: current astronaut corps members who may be incensed by the Mars/flexible talk that will be reiterated on Thursday certainly know they better not speak up against it!

But I think I've come to a special understanding of why so many of our astronaut heroes are outraged by the proposals. So today I'm going to watch my favorite scenes from Howard and Hanks "Apollo 13" several times. My goodness, even James Horner's music captures both the nostalgia, the glory and the nobility of the greatness of human space exploration. Happy anniversary, Freddo, Ken, Jim and Jack, and Sy and all the guys!

328KF
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posted 04-10-2010 08:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Delta7:
But will there be beer?
Maybe not, but there will definitely be some of that Obama brand of Kool-Aid so many seem to be drinking!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-11-2010 07:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Through Twitter, we're starting to get an idea of some of the invited guests to the April 15 event. Among the confirmed invitees:
  • Executive board of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS-USA)
  • Executive board of the National Space Society
  • Patti Grace Smith, former Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Robert Walker, former Congressman (R-PA) and chairman of the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technical Advisory Committee of the U. S. Department of Energy

Matt T
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posted 04-12-2010 07:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not exactly a tough crowd is it? Outright supporters of the new policy or largely in the 'we're generically pro-space and in order to justify our continued existence we best start liking the new plan' pragmatist category. My, this is going to be a firestorm...


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