[/caption]A few details have finally emerged about Presidents Obama’s short visit to the Kennedy Space Center on April 15 to discuss his new plans for NASA as part of his 2011 NASA Budget Request to Congress. Obama’s visit to KSC will begin at 1:30 PM and end at 3:45 PM, when he departs for a longer visit to a political fundraiser. Check this story from the Miami Herald about the fundraiser.
In February 2010 President Obama announced the complete termination of Project Constellation including the Ares 1 and Ares 5 booster rockets and the Orion Manned Capsule. Project Constellation was proposed by President Bush in 2004 with a new vision to return humans to the moon by 2020 and then Mars thereafter.
Instead, Obama proposes to rely on commercial providers to develop ‘space taxis’ to ferry US astronauts to low earth orbit and the International Space Station. No one can say with any certainty when these vehicles will be available.
President Obama has not announced any specific plans, targets, destinations or timelines for NASA to replace those cancelled as part of Constellation. There are no current plans to develop a Heavy Lift booster. there are only funds for technology development.
There has been harsh criticism of the Presidents new plans for NASA from both Democrats and Republicans who see a loss of US Leadership in Space. Even Sen. Bill Nelson (D) of Florida says “President Obama made a mistake [cancelling Constellation]. Because that is the perception. That he killed the space program.”
This visit was initially dubbed a “Space Summit” by the White House, but will now span barely 2 hours in length (including travel time between KSC venues) and apparently not involve significant interaction with or questions from the many thousands of space workers who are about to lose their jobs.
The format of the visit has also been changed from a sort of town hall meeting to a formal address by President Obama to a selected audience of about 200. His remarks will be followed by brief breakout sessions on a few space topics to implement the new directives given to NASA by the White House.
Here is a portion of the Statement from the White House dealing with the President’s Remarks:
THE WHITE HOUSE April 12, 2010
Office of Media Affairs MEDIA ADVISORY: M10-054
PRESIDENT OBAMA TO DELIVER REMARKS AT KENNEDY SPACE CENTER
WASHINGTON – On the afternoon of Thursday, April 15 President Barack Obama will visit Cape Canaveral, Florida and deliver remarks on the bold new course the Administration is charting for NASA and the future of U.S. leadership in human space flight.
Both the arrival and departure of Air Force One at the Shuttle Landing Facility and his remarks at the NASA Operations and Checkout Building are open to the media.
Air Force One Scheduled Arrival: 1:30 PM
Air Force One Scheduled Departure: 3:45 PM
President Obama Remarks at Kennedy Space Center
NASA Operations and Checkout Building
The opening session, including the President’s remarks, and the closing session of the conference are open to pre-credentialed media. The breakout sessions in between will be closed press and streamed at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv.