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Eye Opener: Obama to discuss NASA's future

By Ed O'Keefe

Will future spaceships carry the NASA logo? (AP)

Eye Opener

Happy Monday! President Obama will head to Florida next month to host a conference on the future of American space exploration and defend his plans to revamp the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The president wants to give NASA an extra $6 billion over the next five years and abandon plans to return to the moon by 2020. The government would then help pay for the private construction of spaceships to ferry astronauts to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Those budget proposals have earned strong bipartisan opposition from lawmakers in Alabama, Florida and Texas -- where most of the space industry is based -- and from self-described Congressional space geeks.

Florida officials, fully aware of their swing state status, estimate that more than 9,000 jobs could be lost with the Obama administration's proposed changes and the planned 2011 retirement of the Space shuttle program.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has been especially outspoken, telling Obama advisers on Friday that the administration's NASA plans are a "mistake." He also asked for an additional shuttle flight to the final four missions already planned, called for a mission to Mars and assurances that NASA will build the next big space vehicle to transport astronauts.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) panned Obama's space plans in an op-ed late last week: "NASA's strong history of innovation, as well as our dominance in space, is in danger because President Barack Obama has decided to shift the agency's mission to more Earth-bound tasks," she wrote in the Houston Chronicle.

But Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.), said it's less about the economies of a few states.

"This is about whether Chinese or English is spoken as the dominant language of astronauts a hundred years from now," he told the Oregonian.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has born the brunt of angry lawmakers upset with what they consider as vague and confusing plans for NASA's future. The Congressional reaction led to reports that the space agency was drafting a "Plan B," which the agency later denied.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Forest Service Officer Killed: Officer Chris Upton was shot and killed in a hunting accident in Georgia on Friday. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has ordered USDA flags to be flown at half staff in his memory. "This tragedy reminds us all that law enforcement is a dangerous career," Vilsack said in a statement. "We honor his service. I send my condolences to Officer Upton's family, loved ones, friends and fellow Forest Service Employees affected by this tragic event."

More Obama Nominees Announced: On Friday the president tapped David K. Mineta to serve as the deputy director for demand reduction in the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Track all Obama nominees with The Post's Head Count.

Cabinet and Staff News: Vice President Biden is in the Middle East most of this week. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is in Afghanistan for meetings with military and civilian leaders. Education Secretary Arne Duncan played basketball with President Obama on Sunday. The political press turns its sights on David Axelrod. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urges Latin American countries to fight drug corruption as the gossip press wonders: Will Chelsea Clinton have a Jewish wedding? Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius hit the Sunday talk show circuit. Energy Secretary Steven Chu opposes suspending energy stimulus grants. A profile of Bob Barnett, the book agent and lawyer for current and former Cabinet secretaries and White House aides, including Karl Rove, whose book was reviewed in Sunday's Washington Post. Gen. David Petraeus says Iran is becoming a "thugocracy."

Pentagon guards trained for attack like that of gunman's: Created after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency expanded from a localized police force to include bomb sniffing canine units, and officers who specialize in counterterrorism, hazardous materials and explosives.

Duncan will pressure schools to enforce civil rights laws: In a speech drafted for an appearance at a civil rights landmark in Selma, Ala., Duncan said the department's Office for Civil Rights expects to issue a series of guidance letters to educators to address "issues of fairness and equity."

Key vacancies give Obama a chance to steer financial reform: The various hiring opportunities will allow the White House greater control over the implementation of financial reform legislation.

How agencies will shrink their carbon footprints: The federal government's carbon footprint is big: 51.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. That's roughly twice the size of Walmart's carbon footprint and about one-ninth that of California.

Inside the world of Obama's secret-service bodyguards: Protecting the U.S. president has presented the Secret Service with the greatest challenge in its history. But who wants to kill him? And how likely are they to succeed?

9 more U.S. airports will receive body scanners in coming months: The agency said units will be fielded in the coming months at Charlotte; Cincinnati; Columbus, Ohio; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Kansas City, Mo.; and in California at San Diego; Los Angeles; Oakland and San Jose.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | March 8, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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we await the arrival of The One, who will tell us what NASA is supposed to do now that, you know, its missions are ending.
thanks Barry for the shoutout for Russian and private space programs. the 10,000 Florida space-related jobs are easily replaced (not) and the space brain trust can be dispersed with no ill effect to American innovation or ingenuity.
what is next, jobbing out other federal agencies?
how about the Fed, for one? maybe the slackers @ the SEC could be replaced with Indian teleworkers, what the heck.
this is nuts. NASA with no mission?
thanks Sen. Nelson for being a voice of reason. we are counting on you.

Posted by: FloridaChick | March 8, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Not only 9000 jobs in Florida, but thousands more in Texas and Alabama. Some jobs program, Obama. His current actions affect us in more ways than job losses. Does he think that China, Russia, and other countries are going to stand still in space exploration? How far behind will we fall other countries in the science and technology? Foolish, foolish, foolish! But then again, he's not the brainiac he was touted to be.

Posted by: Lilycat1 | March 8, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Not only 9000 jobs in Florida, but thousands more in Texas and Alabama. Some jobs program, Obama. His current actions affect us in more ways than job losses. Does he think that China, Russia, and other countries are going to stand still in space exploration? How far behind will we fall other countries in the science and technology? Foolish, foolish, foolish! But then again, he's not the brainiac he was touted to be.

Posted by: Lilycat1 | March 8, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I wish they'd take the space budget and plow it into the National Parks. I go to parks, I don't go to space.

Posted by: jimward21 | March 8, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Back in 1971 Nixon's budget people proposed not funding the Shuttle program and cancelling the last two Apollo missions--Apollos 16 & 17. Caspar Weinberger wrote a memo to Nixon arguing for funding the Shuttle and the last two moon missions saying their cancellation would send the signal to the world that we were turning inward and that our best days are behind us. Nixon agreed with Cap and he saved the Shuttle and 16 & 17.

Sadly, the Obama Administration is sending that signal now with the cancellation of the Consellation Program, a program that needs a mere $3B more per year to stay on track. Billions in stimulus money for everything else, but none for NASA. Jobs saved? Not in Brevard Co, FL. Or Alabama. Or Texas.

We need a Cap Weinberger now--where have you gone, Cap?

Thomas J. Frieling
University of Georgia

Posted by: tfrielin | March 8, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Additionally, allocating a mere $6B for private start-ups to produce launch vehicles and manned spacecraft is a ludicrously paltry sum for such an ambitious goal.

Falcon X is in its infancy, yet we could man-rate the Delta IV much cheaper for the Orion capsule, not to mention the recently tested Ares I. Why turn our backs on that progress? (I suspect because Constellation is a Bush era program and Obama has to be the anti-Bush, ergo Constellation has to go.)

The start-ups will burn through that $6 billion likely with little or nothing to show from it. This foolish policy gamble will effectively end the US manned spaceflight program. Buying seats from the Russians to get to ISS is not the thing a great nation does.

Posted by: tfrielin | March 8, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

This is my question based on the Messiah flip flops ...Can we actually still believe ANYTHING that hec says??? All he seems to care is his rapid Charge towards the Destruction of the Constitutional Republic that our Funding Fathers envisioned just to put into pravctice the teachings of Davis, Marx, Mao, Alinsky, jeremiah and other assorted Progressives that seem to have been influecing his Mantra since Columbia and up to now...
So who can ne trusted in Governmant anymore?// Piglosi??? Reid??? Hoyer?? Gahher Biden??? or anyone else... May be it is time to VOTE EM ALL OUT and establish a VOTERS TERM LIMIT

Posted by: redhawk2 | March 8, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I know I will be hated for my comments, so feel free to do your worst. NASA provides all kinds of jobs, but at what cost? There has been horrific expenses, with no true inovation. They are so worried about keeping their jobs that they can't move in any productive direction. We all have heard about the inflated costs of materials and such, and yet "we the people" have let it continue!! I am not saying take the jobs away from the people, just that it time we privatize the whole mess. NASA has no balls anymore, maybe 'The Astronaut Farmer" attitude our best and brightest once had has just grown too fat and conplacient in their old age. Letting politicians make policy has robbed us of our place in history. We should be on the moon and on our way to Mars by now. PRIVATIZE- just use the same well trained people now working for NASA- just without NASA. It really has been nothing but a political body of the government all along, science and exploration got lost a long time ago.

Posted by: GuyCIII | March 8, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Yes, he will run down there and make all kind of promises.for the space he did in Florida, promising fast trains, then to Georgia to promise Nuclear plants....


and Rangel's replacement had to pay back tax also.....LOL...

Posted by: paulann1 | March 9, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

I'm confused, Obama is all for creating jobs yet about 10,000 are going to lose theirs because of his actions. Why don't they just use the Stimulus money. It may not be creating very many jobs but it would be saving a lot of jobs. So in a way, stimulating the economy. There, we have it solved. Out of the $400+ trillion left, we take $50 trillion, that will last us until things pick up and use the rest to pay back on debt.

Posted by: mjj4677 | March 11, 2010 3:23 AM | Report abuse

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