Obama Florida Campaign Touts His Space Accomplishments

Obama Florida Campaign Touts His Space Accomplishments

On the day President Obama accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for a second term, the Obama For America-Florida campaign team scheduled an event with President Obama in Melbourne, FL on Sunday to talk about issues affecting the region, including the space program.

The Florida branch of his campaign also issued a three-page statement of what it said was the Obama Administration’s accomplishments in space over the past four years. It starts by summarizing the President’s efforts in extending existing space projects such as the International Space Station and deep space exploration projects like the Mars Curiosity rover that landed on Mars last month.    It then heralds his support for the “growth of commercial spaceflight,” his “continued investments in science,” and building “support for next generation of spaceflight.” 

Like many political statements, it glosses over some facts.   For example it says that “Under President Obama, NASA is developing a new vehicle. the Space Launch System, which will serve as the backbone of its human space exploration program in the post-Shuttle era.”  That is true, but only because Congress directed NASA to develop the SLS in the 2010 NASA authorization act after President Obama canceled the Constellation program. 

The fact sheet says the President has “continued and further developed NASA’s position as a key investor in science,” but neglects to mention the President’s FY2013 budget request that would cut planetary exploration by 20 percent.  It offers three bullet points on NASA and NOAA investments in climate change research and earth mapping, but does not mention the significant cuts the NASA earth science budget experienced in FY2012 and the FY2013 request compared to what the President had in mind in FY2011.  It says that the President “provided key funding to spur private sector development and demonstration of safe, reliable and cost-effective space transportation vehicles capable of delivering cargo — and eventually crew — to Low Earth Orbit and the International Space Station.”  The President can justifiably take credit for promoting commercial crew, but commercial cargo was a Bush Administration initiative — the Obama Administration simply reaped its rewards with the successful flight of Dragon in May.  Whether commercial crew will succeed remains to be seen.

The three-pager also says the Obama Adminstration “forwarded efforts to foster international cooperation in space,” but the cut to the planetary science budget that required NASA to withdraw from planned cooperation with the European Space Agency on the ExoMars program belies that statement.

Political campaigns often spin facts to suit their purposes and this is no different.   This fact sheet seems a poor effort, however, to highlight the Obama Administration’s space program and policy, especially in an area so hard-hid by layoffs because of his decision to cancel the Constellation program that would have provided jobs to space shuttle workers when that program ended.


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