Near the launch pads where U.S. space voyages begin, President Barack Obama will try to reassure workers that America’s space adventures sail on despite the coming end of space shuttle flights.
[Today] Obama will also try to explain why he aborted his predecessor’s return-to-the moon plan in favor of a complicated system of public-and-private flights that would go elsewhere in space, with details still to be worked out.
It’s a tough sell. So Obama is bringing deal sweeteners with him to Kennedy Space Center, pitching work that will save jobs, provide training for others and extend the life of the international space station.
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And he’s doing it on what once was the home turf of his most prominent critics.
This is the place where astronauts Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Eugene Cernan became American heroes. And they’re all opposed to his ideas, warning they will end America’s supremacy in space.
Obama will speak in the building the Apollo astronauts lived in before they launched.
Obama will outline a strategy that “will provide more jobs for the area, greater investment in innovation, more astronaut time in space, more rockets launching sooner, and a more ambitious and sustainable space program for America’s future,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.
The Obama space plan relies on private companies to fly to the space station, giving them almost $6 billion to build their own rockets and ships. It also extends the space station’s life by five years and puts billions into research to eventually develop new government rocket ships for future missions to a nearby asteroid, the moon, Martian moons or other points in space. Those stops would be stepping stones on an eventual mission to Mars.
This all happens as the orbiting space shuttle Discovery winds down a day of resupplying the space station.
After Discovery lands, there are just three more shuttle flights, a retirement ordered by then-President George W. Bush in 2004 to pay for the return-to-the-moon mission, dubbed “Apollo on steroids.” This year, Obama canceled the moon mission, called Constellation, saying it was not sustainable and was long underfunded.
Stay tuned for more coverage and a wrap up of today’s press conference.