Space Not Prominent in State of the Union Address, But R&D Gets a Mention

Space Not Prominent in State of the Union Address, But R&D Gets a Mention

President Obama’s State of the Union address last night offered no call to arms to invest in the nation’s space program, or even just robotic Mars exploration, but he did argue for increasing spending on research and development (R&D) to a level “not seen since the Space Race.”

Despite the presence of JPL’s Bobak Ferdowsi — “Mohawk Guy” from the Mars Curiosity landing — in the First Lady’s box, the space program didn’t make the cut for inclusion in the hour-long speech.

Obama did stress the importance of investing in “the best ideas,” but his focus was energy not space.

“If we want to make the best products, we also have to invest in the best ideas. Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy. Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s; developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs; devising new material to make batteries ten times more powerful. Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race. And today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy.”

He talked about climate change as well, but not the role of satellites in studying and monitoring it.  The full text of his speech is on the White House website.

Ferdowsi’s trip wasn’t wasted though.  This morning he, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and Presidential science adviser John Holdren hosted an event with students on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.  That was followed by a tweet-up with Ferdowsi, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) staff answering questions.  (Holdren is also the Director of OSTP.)  Ferdowsi tweeted this picture of himself and Bolden.


JPL’s Bobak Ferdowsi (“Mohawk Guy”) and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden (tweeted by Ferdowsi, Feb. 13, 2012)


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