Campaign '08, NASA, White House

Preparing for the transition

An article in this week’s Space News, republished on, notes that President-Elect Barack Obama “offered more specifics about his plans for NASA than any U.S. presidential candidate in history.” Those specifics include the six-page policy paper published by the campaign in August as well as a promise of an additional $2 billion for NASA to partially close the Shuttle-Constellation gap. But can he deliver? Former Congressional staffer Bill Adkins says yes, if Obama specifically asks for the extra money: “If Obama actually puts the $2 billion in [his budget request] that he promised in his campaign, I think Congress is likely to go along with it because it’s not big enough to have a fight over. If Obama doesn’t, I don’t see the mood in Congress to add the money.” Additional NASA funding could be added in one of the new economic stimulus bills being considered by Congress, perhaps during the lame duck session this fall.

Meanwhile, in this week’s issue of The Space Review, I examine some issues associated with implementing that policy, which was originally a tool to win votes on the Space Coast (and an largely ineffective one, given the outcome of the election) but is now seen as the blueprint for the new administration when it comes to space. The first, and perhaps biggest challenge, is determining who should lead NASA while deciding what to do with the shuttle and Constellation. There are other issues that it should consider, given the current state of the agency and overall policy, including whether to stick to the current deadlines of the Vision for Space Exploration; the need to act on, rather than just study, export control reform; and the importance of an open and effective new space council. Undoubtedly the NASA transition team is getting bombarded with suggests like the ones contained in this article, and it will be fascinating to see how they act to put the new administration’s stamp on NASA and national space policy.

7 comments to Preparing for the transition

  • Charles In Houston

    Wow, what a revelation! So two billion dollars is not enough to argue over?

    I think Congress is likely to go along with it because it’s not big enough to have a fight over.

    Hey! Good to know that! Let’s give 2 billion to LOTS of worthwhile causes – veterans, day care, new roads and bridges and parks and pet adoption services and signs that say Be Nice… The meaning of this is that we have opened the floodgates of federal money pretty wide already. Where do you stop? Do you decide that it is all Funny Money anyway and why not just hand out freebies to everyone?

    I am a BIG supporter of space exploration but if we are gonna give an additional 2 billion – just don’t borrow it from my unborn grandchildren.

    And when exactly did 2 billion dollars become just roundoff errors in someone’s budget?

    And if 2 billion is not enough to fight over, how long will it be until someone says it should be 10 billion?? Is that big enough to fight over?

    The Federal deficit is huge and growing at an enormous rate. If we continue to hand out money to everyone – it will become worthless and we will not have an economy at all. That would not be good for our space exploration goals.

    Disclaimer: I voted for John McCain. But I still maintain some independence and perspective.

  • Hey, a trillion here, a trillion there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

  • Bob Mahoney

    You know, if I had had $2B ten years ago, I could have been a rich man today!

  • Actually, I would have blown it all on that circum-Lunar Soyuz flight Space Adventures is trying to sell. . . .

    — Donald

  • Vladislaw

    I do not believe that is what he mean’t about being not enough to fight over.
    Consider this: Divide the 3.4 trillion dollar budget into blocks of 2 billion dollars, then tell me how much time would be needed for congress to debate and legislate each 2 billion dollar block of funds and combine all those 2 billion dollar blocks into a unified budget.

  • reader

    But as long as most of the world sticks with fractional reserve banking, it IS all funny money anyway, so a random $2B thrown out doesnt change anything really.

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