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Obama launches his asteroid space plan to the thrill of several on this planet

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Not every decision a president makes is going to be well-received. And Barack "Let Me Be Clear" Obama really proved that this week.

A dull thud might be the best way to describe the reaction from many after the president announced his new space program. You can read more about the specifics of the alleged plan here.

It's not that people don't like it or anything.  It's just that a lot of people really, really hate it.

His decision to scrap the Constellation program -- the project that would return Americans to the moon by the end of the decade -- in favor of a plan to schlep someone up to an unknown and unspecified asteroid by 2025 (and then maybe more stuff later) has been roundly criticized by the who's-who of the space world. 

Like the first man on the moon -- Neil Armstrong.  Not happy. To him, Obama's idea is just one small step period.

In an open letter to the president, Armstrong and fellow Apollo commanders James Lovell and Eugene Cernan called Obama's space plan "devastating." 

"To be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to....

...go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destines our nation to become one of second--or even third-rate stature," the astronauts wrote.

Not to be outdone, another group of former astronauts put out a letter calling the president's decision "terrible."

"Too many men and women have worked too hard and sacrificed too much to achieve America’s preeminence in space, only to see that effort needlessly thrown away," it reads.

But except for almost everybody, the reaction has been positive. Former astronaut and "Dancing with the Stars" contestant Buzz Aldrin did signal his support for Obama's plan.
Democrat president Barack Obama gives the secret hand signal to Vulcan followers
That's something that NBC's famed space correspondent Jay Barbree -- the only journalist who has covered every manned space flight since it all began back in 1961 -- couldn't do. In fact, he was spitting mad yesterday while speaking to MSNBC anchor Alex Witt.

What irked him?  Job losses -- 9,000 of 'em at the Kennedy Space Center alone, according to one estimate.

"The President came down here in his campaign and told these 15,000 workers here at the Space Center that if they would vote for him, that he would protect their jobs. Nine-thousand of them are about to lose their jobs," he told Witt.

That wasn't all. Barbree was upset at Obama's invitees to the event.  Barbree said that no NASA workers were allowed in.

"He is speaking before 200 people here today only," Barbee said Thursday.  "It's invitation only. He has not invited a single space worker from this space port to attend. It's only academics and other high officials from outside of the country. Not one of them is invited to hear the President of the United States, on their own space port, speak today."

Upon hearing that, Witt then announced she would be playing the part of an Obama spokesperson.

"I will say, on behalf of the Obama administration, they contend that 2,500 new jobs will be created, even more, they say, than the 2012 Constellation would have created, that program," presidential spokeswoman Witt said.

To that Barbree rolled his eyes and scoffed.

But don't let the reactions of most space luminaries ground you.  One of the most respected Vulcans says Obama is OK.

"I know for sure he's a Star Trek fan," Leonard Nimoy told

How does he know that?

Because the first time the two men met, Obama made Spock's traditional V-shaped finger spread, the site reports.

Related item:

Obama sort of has some space ideas

-- Jimmy Orr

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Photo: Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (4)

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I have to say I actually think this a brilliant plan. The difference in difficulty between landing on the moon versus landing on an asteroid is massive. Landing on the moon is a simple task comparatively, however they are both equally important. TO continue sending astronauts to the moon is essentially making no further progress in our space program.

However there is a chance of an asteroid passing by the planet soon that if it passes through a certain keyhole (a 60% chance or so) then it will hit the Earth in about 50 years. If we have the capability to land on asteroids by then, we would be able to prevent impact and protect the planet.

It may not seem like a big feat, but it would show an immense increase in our capabilities to do something that much more difficult.

The out rage of the President's LACK of vision is valid. He is clueless on the destruction of the work force he is sending to McDonald's for jobs. In fact he was forced to add this so called Heavy lift rocket concept by 2015 by some of his democrat supporters from Florida. He is bringing some of the Bush ORION program back to look like he has a plan. NOT SO! The plan for NASA to visit an asteroid was in the ORION mission study All Obama is doing is making stuff up as he goes along. He does not care what NASA is going to do in 5 years any more than he does in 25 years. The Obama policy for NASA is the most vague and uninspiring program ever devised. The main reason is that Obama might not be president in 2015 and certainly not in 2025. Many other presidents will change his direction many times long before his Mars orbit mission in 2030.
The most unreported insult by Obama to NASA is his speech in front of a small audience of NASA employees that support is vague and unoriginal plans. He did not have the GUTS to face the many thousands that he will lay off for years to come. The GALL of this president is astounding!

Obama's so called grand vision for an asteroid mission is from a NASA study from the Bush Constellation program. They had the idea first as a practice mission before sending a human crew to Mars. Obama is talking about a plan that was part of the very program he wants to cancel.

John F. Kennedy, May 25 1961 - "I believe we should go to the Moon. But I think every citizen of this country as well as the Members of the Congress should consider the matter carefully in making their judgment, to which we have given attention over many weeks and months, because it is a heavy burden, and there is no sense in agreeing or desiring that the United States take an affirmative position in outer space, unless we are prepared to do the work and bear the burdens to make it successful. If we are not, we should decide today and this year." This is the conclusion from President Kennedy's "Special Address to Congress on the Importance of Space".

Seems Mr. Obama and those of his ilk are, in fact, NOT interested in an affirmative position in outer space....


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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