Behind The Anger Over Obama’s New NASA Plans
President Barack Obama’s cancellation of a key space program at NASA has angered not only space-enthusiasts and legendary astronauts, but leading the pack is also Lockheed Martin.
Obama has increased NASA’s budget by $6 billion so that more funding can go to research and to improve operations of the International Space Station for the next 3 years. But the President ordered the cancellation of the Constellation Program — a human space-flight program revived by President George W. Bush with the goals of replacing the Space Shuttle and send astronauts to Mars. The program’s price tag is $97 billion for operations until 2020.
The announcement that the Constellation Program will cease operations early next year angered astronauts like Neil Armstrong, James Lovell and Eugene Cernan. These legendary space figures sent a letter to the White House urging Obama to not cancel the human space-flight program.
But the White House has tried to assure Americans that its intentions are not to put the USA behind space exploration efforts.
According to ABC News:
White House officials said on Tuesday that Obama wants NASA to begin work on building a new heavy lift rocket sooner than envisioned under the canceled Constellation program, with a commitment to decide in 2015 on the specific rocket that will take astronauts deeper into space.
“This is a rocket that is going to happen two years earlier than would’ve happened under the past program,” a senior White House official said.
Obama would restructure the Constellation program and allow NASA to develop the Orion crew capsule to provide stand-by emergency escape capabilities for the International Space Station.
His policy would also direct NASA to launch into space a steady stream of robotic exploration missions to scout locations and demonstrate technologies to increase the safety and capability of future human missions.
The current public outrage over Obama’s cancellation of the Constellation Program is also being led by Lockheed Martin — the governments #1 defense and space contractor — which argues that cancellation of the project will result in job losses.
The White House has dismissed the claims that canceling the project will put Americans out of work. In fact, the White House has promised that $40 million that would have gone to the canceled program will now go to renew the economy around the space station in Florida. And there is also a plan to place dislocated workers into new jobs.
According to Reuters, Lockheed Martin is lobbying Congress to block Obama’s cancellation of the Constellation Program. Lockheed Martin made $8.7 billion in space sales last year through NASA’s Orion Space Program — a part of the Constellation Program.