President Obama Greets Apollo 11 Astronauts; White House Press Secretary Answers Questions

President Obama Greets Apollo 11 Astronauts; White House Press Secretary Answers Questions

President Obama met with the Apollo 11 astronauts, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver this afternoon. According to CNN, he hailed the Apollo 11 crew as “three American heroes” and with regard to the future:

“We expect that there is, as we speak, another generation of kids out there who are looking up at the sky and are going to be the next Armstrongs, Collinses and Aldrins,” Obama said. “We want to make sure that NASA is going to be there for them when they want to take their journey.”

Also, there was this exchange about the future of the space program during the daily White House press briefing by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs:

Q I want to briefly change the subject to the manned space program. I know the President is going to be talking about this momentarily, but from a budgetary standpoint, does the President think that America can afford to go back to the Moon or to Mars? I know it’s under review, but in the larger sense is he not worried about the cost?

MR. GIBBS: Well, again, as I said to the most — two previous questions, you’re always worried on any expenditure about cost. I know that the administration is committed to human space exploration. We’ve said that throughout the campaign. And as you mentioned, there is a committee set up through NASA to evaluate this and come back with recommendations as to NASA’s policy going forward I think later in August. And the President looks forward to seeing those commission recommendations, and I have no doubt that the President will get an opportunity to listen to astronauts that walked on the Moon 40 years ago — listen to their perspective and get a sense of what those missions did for scientific discovery and how that will impact the future.

Q It’s been estimated that in today’s dollars the Moon project would cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Is it conceivable that that kind of money could be spent in this environment?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think, without looking at that study, my assumption is that if you have no space program and start a space program, there are significant start-up costs, development costs, R&D costs that I think, factoring 40-year-ago dollars into current decisions, may not extrapolate quite as perfectly as one might presume. But again, the President looks forward to the commission’s recommendations.

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