Obama and Bolden Meet. So What Happened?

US President Barack Obama’s met with NASA administrator Charlie Bolden on Wednesday at the White House. What happened? Not much, as far as anyone can tell. The meeting was short, and no real details have emerged of what might have been discussed or decided. “The two spoke about the Administrator’s work at NASA and they also discussed the Augustine Committee’s analysis,” a White House spokesman told Florida Today. “The President confirmed his commitment to human space exploration, and the goal of ensuring that the nation is on a sustainable path to achieving our aspirations in space.”

The Hunstville Times reported that the two also discussed options for how the country might improve its future human spaceflight activities.

So, no announcement on what “path” NASA will take as a result of the Augustine Commission, or if the Constellation program is staying or going.

While earlier this week, there was hope that Wednesday’s meeting might result in an announcement of NASA’s future, now there are hints that perhaps such an announcement might be part of the State of the Union Address in January, or perhaps a statement regarding the President’s decisions on NASA won’t come until sometime in February.

The U.S. Senate approved a budget of $18.7 billion that the President needs to make a decision on. But The Orlando Sentinel reported that also on Wednesday, Bolden told lawmakers and Congressional staff that the White House was now favoring a $1 billion top line increase to NASA’s budget in 2011. This would be far better than the 5 percent cut that all agencies, including NASA, were asked by the White House to prepare, but difficult to secure given the current deficit-cutting mindset in Congress.

Space Politics also reported on that on Wednesday, unfortunately, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said she was not a “big fan” of human spaceflight. “I have not been a big fan of manned expeditions to outer space, in terms of safety and cost,” she said. “But people could make the case; technology is always changing.”
Any additional spending for NASA, she said, would have to be evaluated against other programs, and “a judgment will be made as to what it does in terms of job creation.” She added that while human missions to the Moon “would be fine” but appeared to be more skeptical about “personned” missions to Mars.

So for now, we wait. Some more.

Sources: Florida Today, Huntsville Times, Space Politics

5 Replies to “Obama and Bolden Meet. So What Happened?”

  1. Pelosi’s statements are typical of the ignorance and apathy shared by most members of Congress in the discussion of space exploration. It makes me ashamed to admit I live in California. Less than 1% of the Federal budget is allocated to NASA. Perhaps the banks and investment houses need another bailout, that’ll certainly create jobs, right Nancy? Simply shameful.

  2. Pelosi’s comments aren’t altogether wrong. Where I’d disagree with her is her implied statement about NASA being too expensive.

    But she’s not wrong about Mars being out of reach. We simply DO NOT have the technology to travel to Mars and back, with a manned crew. FFS we couldn’t even land a manned Apollo style capsule on Mars! We have *no idea* how to land something the size of a manned capsule on Mars (too much atmosphere for rockets, not enough for areo-braking + parachutes… at least not for something that big). Even that basic piece of necessary know-how is beyond our current technical capabilities. Never mind more difficult things like, oh, providing proper radiation shielding for a vessel traveling through interplanetary space.

    We’re *at least* a few decades away from developing the basic technologies necessary to travel to Mars with a hope in heck of arriving alive. Luna? Easy (relatively speaking). Mars? Not going to happen any time soon, barring an incredible breakthrough.

  3. @gopher55:

    I wasn’t referring to her claim regarding manned expeditions, but rather the overall attitude of Congress when it comes to expenditures for ANY space programs. I realize that a manned mission to Mars, or anywhere else in the Solar System is currently beyond our technological capabilities. I’m talking about probes,and basic funding. I am encouraged by today’s article on UT regarding Obama’s committment to increased funding. We’ll see…

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