Space and the 2008 Campaign: Obama “Believes in the Final Frontier”

I have been watching the U.S. presidential candidates (in both parties) for statements on their positions and viewpoints regarding space exploration. (See The Candidates’ Stand on Space Exploration — December 31, 2007.) When it comes to space exploration, the topic has rarely come up in the current presidential campaign. Thus I’ve been reporting any written or verbal comments on the topic that I can find, or that come to my attention.

Last Friday, March 7, 2008, Senator Barack Obama added some additional detail to his position.

During the question and answer portion of a speech given to about 1,200 supporters in Casper, Wyoming, Obama was asked about his stand on the U.S. space program. According to the Chicago Tribune, Obama responded by saying:

“I grew up on Star Trek. I believe in the final frontier.”

Obama continued his comments by talking specifically about NASA and the space shuttle program.

NASA has lost focus and is no longer associated with inspiration. I don’t think our kids are watching the space shuttle launches. It used to be a remarkable thing. It doesn’t even pass for news anymore.”

As part of Obama’s Education Plan released back in November 2007, however, he proposed delaying NASA’s Constellation program (the flight system intended to replace the space shuttle) for five years in order to fund his $18 billion Education Plan. Obama said at that time:

“We’re not going to have the engineers and the scientists to continue space exploration if we don’t have kids who are able to read, write and compute.”

Obama’s comments last Friday that “NASA has lost focus and is no longer associated with inspiration” would appear somewhat at odds with his previously stated desire to delay NASA’s Constellation program (which is quite possibly the most focused and inspirational program NASA has had in decades).

Finally, I continue to send inquiries to the three remaining major presidential candidates from both major political parties (Obama, Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator John McCain) asking for clarification and additional details about their respective stands on human and robotic space missions, NASA’s current Constellation program with it Moon/Mars objectives, and the role they believe the government has in future space missions. I’ll share any responses received, so watch for further posts on this topic.

As I’ve stated before, although my blog normally doesn’t cover politics, I believe it is important for American voters to know where each of the candidates’ stands those key issues that are discussed in this blog, including space exploration. Let me know if you are aware of any additional details about the candidates’ respective stands on the topic.

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