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

April 16, 2010 |  9:48 pm

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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 Space.com.

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

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