Obama Tells Florida TV Station He Is "Committed" To Human Spaceflight

Obama Tells Florida TV Station He Is "Committed" To Human Spaceflight

In an interview yesterday with WESH TV in Orlando, Florida, President Barack Obama said that he is “committed” to the human spaceflight program.

Filmed at the White House with WESH anchor Jim Payne, the interview focused primarily on jobs in Florida, the Florida economy, and the upcoming election. Regarding the space program, Payne stated that 9,000 jobs were lost when the “manned space program shut down … and we’re not planning to have any more manned spaceflights until 2025.” He asked if there was a risk of losing expertise as well as public support by waiting so long to “put men back into space.”

Somewhat surprisingly, the President did not correct him either by pointing to the commercial crew flights that are supposed to begin around 2015-2016, or mentioning ongoing operations of the International Space Station (ISS). Commercial cargo flights to ISS should begin next year from Florida.

Instead, President Obama responded that “I am absolutely committed to manned spaceflight,” but we are in a time of transition and “probably should have done a better job of planning this out 20 years ago.” To make the “next leap” to go not just to the “Moon, but maybe Mars,” he said that technology needs to be revamped and launch vehicles improved. He did not mention human trips to asteroids, the destination he proclaimed in Florida last year.

The President told Payne that he decided “to emphasize human spaceflight. That’s part of what makes America great and it sparks the imagination” here and around the world. But there needs to be time to develop “new technologies, more effective rockets” and learn how to build environments so people can remain in space for longer periods of time. There will a “huge amount of investment” in those areas, he continued, and the people at NASA are the experts. So even though “the shuttle program has been suspended … we are trying to figure out how [to] move … engineers, scientists and technicians … into these new projects to develop that next stage of human spaceflight.”

The shuttle program has not been “suspended,” of course, but terminated.

The interview is available on the WESH website; this part begins at minute 4:00 of Part I. (Scroll down to where you see two video links side-by-side; the video at the top of the page is a news story about the interview, not the interview itself.)

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