NASA Turns Last Shuttle Over to New Owner, Posey Criticizes Obama Space Policy

NASA Turns Last Shuttle Over to New Owner, Posey Criticizes Obama Space Policy

Although the final space shuttle mission landed more than a year ago, today may well be cited as the “real” end of the program as NASA turned over the last space shuttle orbiter, Atlantis, to its new owner. Meanwhile, Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), criticized the Obama Administration’s space policy.

Atlantis is now the property of Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, which owns and operates the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The orbiter will be on permanent display at the Visitor Complex although the exhibit is not completed yet.  It is set to open in July 2013.

Speaking at a ceremony where the papers were signed transferring ownership from NASA to Delaware North, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden kept a focus on the future. While agreeing that today is a historic day, Bolden said “I don’t preside over an agency that’s in the history business. … We’re in the business of creating the future. … We take things that people say are impossible and we make them possible. We dazzle people.” Acknowledging that change is difficult, he stressed that “sometime you have to say we did great things and now we’re on to greater things.”

Bolden went on to discuss the Obama Administration’s plans for human spaceflight — commercial cargo, commercial crew and human trips to an asteroid and Mars. His comments paralleled those made yesterday by NASA’s Bill Hill that the U.S. human spaceflight program is not dead just because the shuttle orbiters are now in museums.

Yesterday, Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), who represents Florida’s Space Coast, criticized the Obama Adminstration’s space policy during an interview with radio station WMFE, particularly Obama’s cancellation of the Constellation program. Posey went on to explain his support of the Space Leadership Act (H.R. 6491), which he co-sponsored, and advocated a human return to the Moon no later than 2022. Posey said the Romney/Ryan team recognizes “that NASA has long been asked to do too much with too little” and needs clearer goals, not more money. NASA should focus on space and not climate change, for example, he said.

Also yesterday, the Orlando Sentinel praised the Obama Administration for “the smart decision to privatize the job of carrying cargo — and in a few years, astronauts — to low Earth orbit so that NASA can focus its limited resources on deep-space exploration.” The Sentinel has endorsed Mitt Romney for President this year, changing its stance from 2008 when it supported Obama.

The decision to privatize cargo delivery to the International Space Station (ISS) actually was made during the George W. Bush Administration. Commercial crew was also envisioned at that time, although the Obama Administration took the idea and ran with it, making it a central tenet of its civil space policy.

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