I exchanged emails today with Greg Zsidisin, who was not only at the Obama rally yesterday in Casper, Wyoming, but asked Obama the question about space policy that was mentioned in the previous post. Greg told me exactly what he asked Obama:
“My question is about the human space program. You say you’d delay NASA’s program to build a Space Shuttle replacement for 5 years, in order to increase the education budget a grand total of 7 percent. But everyone knows that this effectively ends the US human space program. Why are you specifically pitting the space program against education, and where’s the vision in shutting down the [human] space program?”
He wasn’t able to give the exact response Obama provided, but was able to fill in a few extra details:
He didn’t really address the space vs. education aspect – that is, why he is singling out human spaceflight to de-fund for education. He did say he was born in 1961, and that space inspired him in his youth. He then mentioned Star Trek and the other quoted parts (‘NASA doesn’t inspire now’). He also said that NASA can’t get the engineers now that the increase in education would fund (!).
He never specifically mentioned delaying a Shuttle replacement or the return to the Moon, saying he’d defer ‘certain segments’ of the space program. (Single quotes – I don’t remember the phrasing well enough for doubles.)
Later on, talking about energy issues, he did say that we needed an Apollo Program for energy. He did so rather pointedly, saying (referring to me), “And THAT, sir, should be our next Apollo Program.”