Monday, August 10, 2009

Will President Obama keep or break space promise

John Kelly
The Flame Trench
Florida Today

A year ago this week, President Barack Obama came to Titusville.

Then, he was a candidate locked in a fierce battle for the White House. He needed Florida.

People packed the room at Brevard Community College. Many were space workers or people with ties to the industry.

They longed to hear him outline his plans for NASA. Until then, Obama's campaign had released conflicting policy statements, one cut NASA's budget by billions to fund education and the other boosted space spending and added one extra shuttle mission.

In light of coming decisions about NASA's future, it seems worthwhile to check back on exactly what the president said last August in Titusville.

Let me be clear," the president said, "we cannot cede our leadership in space. That's why I am going to close the gap, ensure that our space program doesn't suffer when the shuttle goes out of service."

His goal was "making sure that all of those who work in the space industry in Florida do not lose their jobs when the space shuttle is retired because we cannot afford to lose their expertise."

He promised a space program that would "help grow the economy right here in Brevard County and right here in Florida. That's what we're going to do."

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and legendary astronaut John Glenn, stumping for Obama, reached out to reporters. Aides pressed the media to keep noting Obama's commitment to "close the gap" and save space jobs in Florida.

My point: The promise was neither ambiguous nor subtle. The campaign wanted voters here to know Obama was good for space and good for space jobs.

Read the Editorial Comment HERE.

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