Latest Speculation on Obama's Plan for Human Space Flight

Latest Speculation on Obama's Plan for Human Space Flight

Todd Halvorson has an article in Florida Today this morning laying out what he believes will be President Obama’s plan for the human space flight program. It sounds very much like what Andrew Lawler published in ScienceInsider several weeks ago following the meeting between President Obama and NASA Administrator Bolden. Halvorson dismissed Lawler’s story days later in his blog, quoting White House press officials as saying that the meeting was “informational not decisional” and Lawler’s story was “speculation.”

Today, Halvorson repeats most of what Lawler said the Obama plan will be:

  • extend International Space Station operations to 2020,
  • boost NASA’s budget by a $1 billion,
  • rely on the commercial sector to take cargo and eventually crews to low Earth orbit (LEO),
  • accelerate development of a heavy lift launch capability, and
  • lead international expeditions into interplanetary space (which sounds like the Augustine commitee’s “Flexible Path” option)

Florida Today called this a “dynamic plan” for human space flight.

As we reported earlier, a $1 billion boost to the NASA budget for FY2011 would merely pay for the expected operations of the space shuttle for six additional months. The Augustine committee stressed that it was unlikely the remaining shuttle flights could be completed in FY2010 and estimated that it would cost $1.1 billion in FY2011 to finish the program. It also estimated that extending ISS to 2020 would cost an additional $13.7 billion.

Although $1 billion not only sounds like a lot of money, it is a lot of money, it is not nearly enough to move forward with a “dynamic” human space flight program.

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