The Houston Chronicle editorial board interviewed the two Democratic presidential frontrunners, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, on Friday, and got distinctly different comments on several issues, including human spaceflight:
“I intend to pursue an ambitious agenda in both space exploration and earth sciences,” Clinton said. “I want to support the next generation of spacecraft for a robust human spaceflight program.”
Obama agreed that NASA, which employs thousands of Houston-area voters who work at or with the Johnson Space Center, should be a tool for inspiring the nation.
But, he said, the next president needs to have “a practical sense of what investments deliver the most scientific and technological spinoffs — and not just assume that human space exploration, actually sending bodies into space, is always the best investment.”
Obama’s statement would not seem to go over well in Houston, but nonetheless he won the newspaper’s endorsement Saturday. That endorsement, though, did come with some caveats, including about space:
On several issues vital to Houstonians, Obama’s positions need elaboration. He recognizes the need to maintain U.S. pre-eminence in space but said he wanted to study the costs and benefits of human space exploration — an exercise that should convince him of the space program’s long history of indispensable contributions.