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President Obama visits NASA and the Space Coast

04/16/2010 - President Barack Obama announced details of his vision for space exploration at the Kennedy Space Center Yesterday. Under the new proposal NASA will set its sites on reaching beyond low earth orbit to asteroids and eventually to Mars. But outside the Kennedy Space Center the President's new plan was met with skepticism on the Space Coast as 90.7s Mark Simpson reports.


Just a few miles away from the Kennedy Space Center outside the Astronaut Hall of Fame about 60 protesters waved signs before the President's speech, criticizing his plans to cancel the Constellation program, which was supposed to take astronauts back to the moon.

Melbourne Beach resident Daniel Hanson worried the move would erase America's leadership in human spaceflight:

Hanson1: we are number 1, we don’t need to be number 2 or three, and we don’t need to let anyone else takeover what we accomplished.  Most of the stuff that’s going on up there is stuff that we’ve initiated.  And we don’t need to be depending on Russia or anybody else to take us up there.

But later on at KSC the President received a warm welcome as he announced a refined vision for NASA ... including a plan  to keep the next generation Orion crew capsule alive as an escape pod for the International Space Station.

Mr. Obama also tried to satisfy area critics   by announcing a rough timetable for sending humans into deep space by the next decade and eventually on to Mars.

0415Obama2:  by the mid 2030s I believe we can send humans to orbit mars and return them safely to earth and a landing on Mars will follow and I expect to see it!

Butted: Mullon tease:  He’s probably one of the best speakers ever born.  The guy could be making millions selling cars….

Down the road from the Kennedy Space Center at Shuttle’s Bar and Grill about 2 dozen space Shuttle   engineers and contractors were grabbing a bite to eat and watching President Obama’s speech with some skepticism.

Constellation contractor Bob Mullon says the President made some positive remarks.  He likes the plan to invest 3 billion dollars to develop a heavy lift rocket   for human exploration of deep space.


But he says Mr. Obama's proposal to spend  40 million dollars   to   create new Space Coast jobs wont’ have a big impact.


Mullon1:  On a big construction project we’ll spend 40 million dollars in a matter of months.  I guess it’s good for paying some government employees to sit and console people about what happened when they lost their job.  But really I see it as kind of a joke, it’s zero.


Many Kennedy Space Center employees at Shuttle’s didn't want to speak on tape, but they said they wanted   more  specifics from the President.  For one thing, Mr. Obama said he wants astronauts to visit an asteroid ... these workers want to know, which one?   The engineers also worry that even though NASA now has a goal of reaching Mars by the 2030s, the plan could change substantially after this president leaves office.

I’m Mark Simpson 90.7 WMFE News.


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