Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was interviewed Thursday by report Tom Beres of Cleveland’s WKYC-TV on a number of topics, including NASA—of topic of some interest there given the presence of the Glenn Research Center. In the interview, Obama says the space program has been “stuck” for a number of years with the shuttle. He called for “broadening our horizons”, including a mix of both unmanned missions (the reference to the “Jupiter launch” is unclear, but appears to be the candidate stumbling to come up with an example of a robotic mission extemporaneously) and “planning for potential manned flights”. Asked if he would continue the current national space exploration policy, he said he would, as president, do a “thorough review” of NASA programs so that the agency’s spending “is a little more coherent than it has been”, although he didn’t go into any greater specifics.
A rough transcript of the NASA portion of the Obama interview is below:
Beres: Another subject. Here in northeast Ohio the role of NASA space program [is] very important. We have a NASA Glenn Research Center here that was on the ropes for a while and has now been given an awful lot of work to take part in the lets’ go back into space, let’s go back to the Moon, let’s go back to Mars projects outlined by President Bush. What is your view towards the space program? Would you have the same priorities?
Obama: Well, I’ve got a strong belief in NASA and the process of space exploration. I do think that our program has been stuck for a while, that the space shuttle mission did not inspire the imaginations of the public, that much of the experimentation that was done could have been conducted not necessarily with manned flights. I think that broadening our horizons and looking at a combination of both unmanned satellites of the sort that we saw with the Jupiter launch, but also looking at where we can start planning for potential manned flights. I think that is all something that I’m excited about and could be part of a broader strategy for science and technology investment–
Beres: So you would continue–
Obama: The only thing I want to say is that I want to do a thorough review because some of these programs may not be moving in the right direction and I want to make sure that NASA spending is a little more coherent than it has been over the last several years.