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McCain or Obama - who is good for science? Chapter 5: The Space Program

Before Obama talked about postponing the Constellation program by 5 years, now he is talking about preserving manpower between the end of the shuttle project and the start of the Constellation project according to the original schedule. Depends on who is asking him

Simulation of the parts of the Orion spacecraft
Simulation of the parts of the Orion spacecraft

A few months ago, space was a non-issue in the current election campaign. To illustrate how space is not that important to Obama, it turns out that during the election campaign he wants to invest no less than 18 billion dollars in the education system every year, and in order to maintain a budget balance and prevent an increase in the deficit he intends to postpone NASA's Constellation project for five years .

The Florida Today newspaper forced the two candidates to drop their lack of regard for space and take a position that would allow the jobs in Florida to be kept even during the four-year time gap expected from the retirement of the shuttles to the start of the Orion vehicle launches.
Therefore, the newspaper convened round tables with the participation of the candidates (each separately) and in front of them were employees of NASA from Florida and NASA officials to discuss the positions of the contenders in the field of space. Both were therefore forced to update their websites with the policies they formulated.

Just as Sarah Palin had statements on issues close to her heart - such as the study of evolution, Senator Joe Biden, Obama's deputy in the race for the White House had unfortunate statements regarding space: "Revolutions in the field of transportation will have an impact on foreign policy in the years to come. I don't mean commercial space flights or supersonic flights. There is a limit to how fast or far we have to fly, especially when technology allows us to meet face to face without physically meeting.

On one occasion, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden warned against trying to start an arms race in space after the Chinese tested an anti-satellite missile. "I don't think we should be overly concerned at this point," Biden said. "We have ways to deal with this ability." And later Biden called not to start a new space race.

In any case, the positions of both sides can be summarized as follows:

Obama asks:

  1. Re-establish the National Aeronautics and Space Council to coordinate and supervise all space activities - civil, commercial and military and report all to the President.
  2. To close the gap between the retirement of the shuttles and the transition to the new aircraft by adding shuttle flights, accelerating the development of the next generation spacecraft and working in collaboration with the industry to preserve manpower and technical capabilities.
  3. Completion and expansion of the International Space Station so that it can host scientific and technological research projects as previously planned.
  4. I will promote manned and unmanned space flights with the goal of launching a manned mission to the moon by 2020, as a precursor to missions to more distant destinations, including Mars.
  5. Emphasizing the role of NASA in the field of research to increase the scope of research in the field of climate change and to promote research in the field of aeronautics.
  6. Expanding cooperation between the public sector and the private sector in order to develop innovative technologies.
  7. Inspiring the next generation through the expansion of curricula in the field of space.

In various media interviews, Obama announced that as president, he would establish a balanced and healthy civilian space program. "Under my administration, NASA will not only inspire the world with manned and robotic spaceflight, but will also return to leading and addressing the challenges we experience on Earth, including climate change, energy independence, and aeronautical research."

"When we achieve the vision, I will seek to include international partners and encourage the private sector to increase NASA's ability to reach far." I believe that NASA coming back to life can help America maintain its place at the edge of innovation and boost American economic growth."

"There is currently no organization in the federal government that has a broad mandate to manage features that combine strategy and policy in discussing all aspects of government space programs, including those carried out by NASA, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of National Intelligence, the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Transportation, and other federal agencies. This was not always the case. Between 1958 and 1973, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration oversaw the entire space field for four presidents. The Council was briefly revived from 1989 to 1992. I will re-establish the Council to report to the President. The council will manage and coordinate the civil, military, commercial space activities and those related to national security. It will also ask for the public's involvement, encourage the international community and work towards the space vision for the 21st century that constantly pushes forward the envelope of new technologies, and strive for a balanced national supply that expands our horizon towards the sky and improves life here on Earth."

Highlights of John McCain's space policy

  1. Ensure that space flights remain a priority and that the US continues to be the leader.
  2. Ensure funding for NASA's Constellation program to ensure it has the resources required to usher in a new era in manned spaceflight.
  3. Review and explore all options to ensure US access to space while minimizing the gap between the end of the use of the space shuttles and the availability of the replacement vehicle.
  4. Ensure that the national space workforce continues to be fully employed, through the construction of the US National Laboratory for the International Space Station.
  5. I will seek to maximize the research capacity and commercialization possibilities of the American National Laboratory on the space station.
  6. I will maintain the investments in the infrastructure in the field of earth monitoring satellites and supporting systems. I will ask to preserve the national space infrastructure.
  7. I will avoid wasteful unique projects (earmarks) so that they do not divert important resources from critical scientific research.
  8. I will ensure adequate investments in research in aeronautics.

Whereas John McCain says that today, more than a thousand years after Sputnik, the USA is facing a completely different world. The end of the Cold War and the space race reduced the profile of space exploration as a point of pride and a sign of US power and somewhat normalized NASA.

"At the same time, the scientific community sees the use of space as an important observation platform for advanced science that will allow us to increase our understanding of the solar system and the universe. In addition, our current understanding of climate change on Earth is based on data we received from weather satellites and Earth observation satellites. A significant part of our communications infrastructure depends on space assets that are vital to the quality of our daily lives and economy.

China, India, Russia, Japan and Europe are all active in space. Both Japan and China launched robotic lunar probes in 2007. India plans to launch a lunar rover this year. The European Space Agency is considering a lunar lander but is more focused on Mars. China is also promoting a manned space program, and in 2003 it became the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to demonstrate the ability to launch a man into space. China is also developing plans for a manned mission to the moon in the next decade and establishing a base on the moon after 2020."

"History provides us with guidance on this issue. In 1971, when the Nixon administration wanted to cancel the Apollo program and not approve the development of the space shuttle, Casper Weinberger, who was the deputy director of the Office of Management and Finance (and later the Secretary of State - the US Secretary of State), approached him and said that such a policy: 'Illustrate at home and in the world Because we believe that we are losing faith in our ability, that the good years are behind us, that we are turning inward, reducing our commitment to defense, and voluntarily beginning to give up our status as a power and our desire to maintain world leadership.' Three and a half percent The letter seems appropriate again, if we take into account the growing number of countries making significant investments in space."

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