Former astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, made clear her support for Barack Obama in an Orlando Sentinel op-ed Wednesday. Part of her reason for supporting the Democratic candidate is his stance on space:
Obama also has impressed me with his grasp of the challenges our space program faces and his agenda for where we go from here. Obama clearly understands the importance of human spaceflight and exploration. That is why he supports increasing NASA’s budget to close the gap in American spaceflight capability.
However, he also sees the potential for NASA to expand its research capabilities to study things like global warming and aeronautics. And most important to me, he has included plans to integrate our space program into educational curricula around the country so students can experience the thrill of science through remotely controlling cameras on the international space station or, perhaps one day, rovers on the moon.
Related: this week’s print issue of Aviation Week claims that Ride’s name “has come up on both candidates’ lists” of potential replacements for NASA administrator Mike Griffin. (Essays like this, though, would presumably not help her chances in a McCain administration.) However, the same report also claimed that Chirinjeev Kathuria—one of the backers of MirCorp and current chairman of PlanetSpace, a small company partnering with ATK, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin to win a commercial ISS resupply contract—is also on Obama’s shortlist to replace Griffin. (Kathuria, as readers may recall, ran for the Senate from Illinois in 2004 but lost the Republican primary; that was the seat won in the general election by none other than Barack Obama. Kathuria also made a failed bid for lieutenant governor of Illinois in 2006, also as a Republican.)