Barack Obama has vowed to make space exploration a high priority if he wins the White House and has called for $2 billion in new funding to reinvigorate NASA.
Obama’s plan includes President Bush’s call to send astronauts to the moon by 2020 and later to Mars, but charged that the administration’s “poor planning and inadequate funding” have undermined the effort.
He criticized policies that will result in a 5-year period after 2010 when the U.S. will have to depend on foreign rockets to send Americans into orbit, the Washington Post reported.
The last Space Shuttle will fly in the summer of 2010, and the three-spacecraft fleet will then be retired. The replacement aircraft, the Constellation, will not be ready until 2015 at the earliest, which means the U.S. will be dependent on Russian spacecraft to take astronauts to the international space station.
Obama said the additional funding for NASA would be paid for in part by rolling back congressional earmarks to 1994 levels.
Obama’s presidential rival John McCain on Monday told business leaders in Florida that Obama has changed his position on NASA funding in recent months, according to The Post.
He noted that Obama had earlier opposed full funding for the Constellation program.
McCain said: “Sometimes it is difficult to know what a politician will actually do once in office, because they say different things at different times to different people.
“I will ensure that space exploration remains a top priority and that the U.S. continues to lead the world in this field.”
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