In what could be considered a compromise in his proposed budget for NASA, President Obama is reviving the Orion crew capsule concept that he had canceled with the rest of the Constellation program earlier this year, according to an article by Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press. This should mean more jobs and less reliance on the Russians, officials said Tuesday. While Orion, still won’t go to the moon. It will go unmanned to the International Space Station to stand by as an emergency vehicle to return astronauts home, officials were quoted in the article.
Borenstein also reported that NASA will speed up development of a heavy lift rocket. It would have the power to blast crew and cargo far from Earth, although no destination has been chosen yet. The rocket supposedly would be ready to launch several years earlier than under the old moon plan.
The two moves are being announced before the “Space Summit” on Thursday, a visit to Kennedy Space Center by Obama. They are designed to counter criticism of the Obama administration’s space plans as being low on detail, physical hardware, and local jobs.
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The President’s plan had been met with much criticism, including an open letter to Obama drafted by several former astronauts, flight directors and other former NASA officials.
A briefing at the White House Now said that the president is committed to choosing a single heavy-lift rocket design by 2015 and then starting its construction.
Reportedly, the new Obama program will mean 2,500 more Florida jobs than the old Bush program, a senior White House official told Borenstein. In addition, as we reported earlier, the commercial space industry on Tuesday released a study that said the president’s plan for private ships to fly astronauts to and from the space station would result in 11,800 jobs.
“We wanted to take the best of what was available from Constellation,” the NASA official told The Associated Press as part of a White House briefing.