As the race for U.S. President starts to heat up, Barack Obama has continued to polish his image as the youthful candidate promising a hopeful future. And yet he's also on record saying "[U.S. Space Agency] NASA is no longer associated with inspiration." He's proposing cutting NASA's budget in order to fund early-education programs for kids under 5. It's hard to fault his desire to educate kids, but why sacrifice space programs to do it? If elected, is it possible that Obama, the "hopeful" candidate, will destroy our hopes for space exploration and colonization?
Obama has said he'll take money away from NASA's Constellation program, which focuses on flights to the Moon and Mars. A space exploration advocate, Greg Zsidisen, questioned Obama about his plans for the program a couple of months ago and got a vague answer. According to the Chicago Tribune:
"I grew up on Star Trek," Obama said. "I believe in the final frontier."
But Obama said he does not agree with the way the space program is now being run and thinks funding should be trimmed until the mission is clearer.
"NASA has lost focus and is no longer associated with inspiration," he said. "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."
Zsidisen, the advocate who asked Obama about the space program, has an interesting article on Obama's views about space travel, as well as Hilary Clinton and John McCain's maddenly vague views, at The Space Review. You can also hear him talk about these issues on The Space Show podcast, where he's joined by Buzz Aldrin a couple of times to discuss government space policy. Really interesting stuff.