"The Childe...More restless than the swallow in the skies..." -Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ask not What the Cosmos Can Do for You.

Below are some excerpts from President Obama’s Tax Day address at the Kennedy Space Center. These quotes are for me the highlights of an exciting plan. In relation to the cosmos, I believe this speech shows President Obama as having the vision of John F. Kennedy, the patriotism of Ronald Reagan, and the political acuity of, well, Barack Obama. Even if you aren’t especially interested in space exploration, I invite you to read these quotes as examples of a great mind engaged in proactive leadership. Enjoy!

“I want to thank Senator Bill Nelson and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden for their leadership. And I want to recognize Doctor Buzz Aldrin….Few people – present company excluded – can claim the expertise of Buzz, Bill, and Charlie when it comes to space exploration. And few people are as singularly unimpressed by Air Force One.”

“…as President, I believe that space exploration is not a luxury or an afterthought in America’s quest for a brighter future – it is an essential part of that quest.”

“In fact, what was once a global competition has long since become a global collaboration.”

“I am 100 percent committed to the mission of NASA and its future. Because broadening our capabilities in space will continue to serve our society in ways we can scarcely imagine.”

“And we will extend the life of the International Space Station likely by more than five years, while actually using it for its intended purpose: conducting advanced research that can help improve daily life on Earth, as well as testing and improving upon our capabilities in space.”

“Early in the next decade, a set of crewed flights will test and prove the systems required for exploration beyond low Earth orbit.…We’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history.”

“Finally, I want to say a word about jobs. Despite some reports to the contrary, my plan will add more than 2,500 jobs along the Space Coast in the next two years….We’ll modernize the Kennedy Space Center creating jobs as we upgrade launch facilities….And there is potential for even more job creation as companies in Florida and across America compete….”

“I know that some Americans have asked a question that’s particularly apt on Tax Day: Why spend money on NASA at all? Why spend money solving problems in space when we do not lack for problems to solve here on the ground?....we know that this is a false choice. Yes, we need to fix our economy. Yes, we need to close our deficits. But for pennies on the dollar, the space program has fueled jobs and entire industries. For pennies on the dollar, the space program has improved our lives, advanced our society, strengthened our economy, and inspired generations of Americans.”

If you are interested in reading President Obama’s complete speech, one place to find it is at the National Space Society Blog.


  1. Are you contemplating moving to Florida now? You could work at Kennedy Space Center!

    First it was O'Neill and New York and now...

    Kidding. Thanks for your wishes for sickness eradication at my house.

  2. Boy, were you suckered in! He wants rockets built by the private sector. That is just what we need, a rocket built by Wal-mart or even beter, Toyota.

  3. I am disgracefully late in replying to Anonymous's comment. Of course I agree that having Walmart build rockets would be crazy. Toyota might have the wherewithal (provided the rockets don't need gas pedals).

    But to be serious and clear, the private sector already builds rockets, including heavy lift vehicles. A good example of a private corporation with a prestigious history of supplying rocket propulsion systems to NASA is ATK Aerospace Systems (Thiokol). Another example is United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

    It seems to me that the real dilemma here, and my above post only touched on it, is the (hopefully) short-term upheaval of shortened/cancelled contracts for vendors who heretofore serviced NASA's Constellation program.