President Obama Visits Kennedy Space Center on April 15

[/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


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

11 Replies to “President Obama Visits Kennedy Space Center on April 15”

  1. “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.:

    Sounds like they have no real plan.

  2. ..he’s probably going to hand out all the redundancy packages, then give them their hat and coat!

    From the looks of the very briefness of the meeting, he won’t have much time to get the keys and lock up the joint.

  3. A “bold, new course the Administration is charting for NASA”? and “U.S. leadership in space?” a complete joke. They have no plan. To what end do we explore? To go further. First off, if we put a MAN ON THE MOON IN 1969, before the silicon revolution, and less than a decade after we put a man in space. Does anyone else see a problem with where we are now? Leave it to politicians to mess up everything that is good (as a teacher, don’t even get me started on education), but they are pussyfooting around, give NASA the damn money. Maybe the gov’t could use the money they are using to destroy things and put it towards learning and exploration.

  4. The guy that has to clean house is never popular.

    Constellation was a disaster, and even if it ended up getting us back to the moon, it would have been extremely over budget and extremely under performing – barely a repeat of Apollo, and everyone would have been screaming about how we’re paying for bad decisions at the beginning of the project….

    Area 1 was another disaster – who needs another expensive rocket when we’ve already got two, and probably three? What’s wrong with commercial competition?

    Instead, the new plan includes:
    – More money for NASA
    – No need to build a rocket
    – A heavy launcher
    – An interplanetary vehicle

    That sounds to me like a much more visionary plan.

    We’re at the point where new plans have to be forward looking, not just repeat existing component and already achieved goals – there’s still so much new stuff we can do.

    I am very happy with the new direction, I’m curious to see how much is revealed on the 15th.

  5. @Al

    It can’t be accounting and economics that you teach.

    If you looked at the NASA 2011 budget you’ll see it has increased. For example the Marshall Space Flight Center get funds to develop new propulsion systems for a heavy lifter, the necessary robotics to prepare our way beyond LEO, various new technology demonstration programs and to support space flight commercialization to a competitive private sector who will do R&D, provide services and local jobs and diversify the US space effort away from a government debt funded monopoly.

    The Bush vision of “to the Moon and beyond..” made a neat bumper sticker for those with the attention span of the twitter generation, but if we are serious about going beyond LEO without having to dress the kids in sacks, then the affordable foundations being put in place now maybe our best shot.

    As CrazyEddieBlogger points out it’s only a few day until April 15th.

  6. This is a dark time for the United States. We must continue to be the leaders in the exploration of space. Developing a “space taxi” system trivializes the importance of the research and exploration that is so vital to us as individuals and human beings. Please, Mr. President, transcend politics and put NASA on a positive, sustainable course.

  7. Isn’t Obama going there to personally hand out pink slips and severance packages to the NASA employees?
    I like Obama, but I think his approval rating with me will drop after the 15th. 🙁

  8. @TerryG:
    Problem is Obama’s plan also has the classic trademarks of the tactics used for culling all big tech programs.
    After they become unpopular (but are still controversial) those in charge will say “its a great idea, but it needs more research”.
    A year or two after the cameras are gone they’ll say “Research is for chumps, its just wasting money!”.

    Apollo was not intended to be a flag and footprint mission and neither was constellation. Its the politics of public spending that made them run over cost then reduced them to the sum of their parts.
    This will affect any large scale exploration mission (commercial or not) and be a major thorn in the side of space development if we cant evolve a way past it.

    If Obama is only coming to say that he doesn’t want to debate a better plan, there isn’t much hope of that happening during this administration.

  9. Folks – the visit on the 15th is hardly the place where planning and negotiations take place. How could it be?

    The planning and negotiations have been happening for the last 4 months..

    Unklar – you’re exactly right, except that basic R&D is exactly what this plans calls for – in order to develop the vehicles that are truly next generation rather than capsules on top of solid boosters.

    When Apollo was conceived, the plan was devised the way it was because “Getting there first” took priority, and thus Apollo’s legacy, ISS/LEO, etc.

    To break this cycle, we need to take a leap forward. Building a slightly bigger capsule and lander would perhaps get us there sooner (and ironically, still slower than Apollo…) but would not get us farther, and that’s the main goal.

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