Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Is Obama Having Second Thoughts On NASA's Ares I Rocket? Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
After defeating John McCain in the bid for the White House, President Elect Barack Obama is determined to bring about the necessary change in government in order to keep the US economy from going off of a cliff.

While Obama is already asking for "meaningful cuts and sacrifices" in order to keep our economy afloat, it looks like his team may be hinting that future budget cuts could potentially affect NASA's Ares I rocket as well.

( U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's NASA transition team is asking U.S. space agency officials to quantify how much money could be saved by canceling the Ares 1 rocket and scaling back the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle next year. [...]

The questionnaire, "NASA Presidential Transition Team Requests for Information," asks agency officials to provide the latest information on Ares 1, Orion and the planned Ares 5 heavy-lift cargo launcher, and to calculate the near-term close-out costs and longer-term savings associated with canceling those programs. The questionnaire also contemplates a scenario where Ares 1 would be canceled but development of the Ares 5 would continue.

While the questionnaire, a copy of which was obtained by Space News, also asks NASA to provide a cost estimate for accelerating the first operational flight of Ares 1 and Orion from the current target date of March 2015 to as soon as 2013, NASA was not asked to study the cost implications of canceling any of its other programs, including the significantly overbudget 2009 Mars Science Laboratory or the James Webb Space Telescope.

According to the article, Obama seems to be committed towards keeping COTS alive (which is great news for companies like SpaceX and Bigelow Aerospace).

While Ares I and Ares V do have have their fair share of critics, canceling either may end up hurting America's chances of beating China back to the Moon--unless a viable alternative can be found.

Note: If President Elect Obama decides to cancel the Ares rockets, NASA may want to consider teaming up with India and Japan, in order to make up for the short fall in funding (as well as support).

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