Entries in Nasa (4)


Paul Ryan Talks Space Exploration, Accuses Obama of ‘Dismantling’ the Program

(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- It’s a topic Paul Ryan hasn’t discussed before on the campaign trail, but at an event Saturday Paul Ryan unleashed on President Obama on the issue of space exploration, saying he has “presided over a dismantling of the space program over the last four years.”

“We are near the space coast, I think it’s important that we have a space program that has a clear space mission, a space program that we know where we are heading in the future, and a space program that is the unequivocal leader on the planet in space travel and space research,” Ryan said at an event at the University of Central Florida, about an hour away from the Kennedy Space Center.

“We don’t have that right now,” he said. “Look at what we have gotten out of this. The space program strengthens the entrepreneurial spirit and competitiveness. They launch new industries and new technologies. President Obama campaigned quite a bit around Florida, around the space coast, in 2008 — made lots of promises. This is another one of those broken promises.”

Ryan continued, saying the president has put the “space program on a path where we are conceding our global position as the unequivocal leader in space.”

“Today, if we want to send an astronaut to the space station, we have to pay the Russians to take him there,” Ryan said to boos from the crowd. “China may someday be looking down on us from the Moon. That’s unacceptable. Mitt Romney and I believe that America must lead in space. Mitt Romney and I believe we need a mission for NASA, a mission for a space program, and we also believe that this is an integral part of our national security.”

Ryan is referring to the president’s shift in NASA funding, when he moved away from the goal of sending astronauts back to the moon by the year 2020, as proposed under the Constellation program begun by President George W. Bush.  Obama has proposed sending NASA astronauts to a passing asteroid and eventually on to Mars; in the meantime his administration has mandated that the job of servicing the space station be handed off to private companies.

Space is a topic the Romney campaign hasn’t stressed on the campaign trail — there was hardly a mention at their convention in Tampa last month — but one they decided to focus on at Ryan’s event Saturday as well as releasing a policy paper outlining their plan.

Republicans as well as former astronauts like Neil Armstrong, who passed away last month, were highly critical of the president’s plan when Constellation was cut in 2010. Armstrong called it “devastating” and there has been high joblessness in the space coast area.

In the policy roll out, the Romney campaign writes, “A strong and successful NASA does not require more funding, it needs clearer priorities,” but stays vague on specific space exploration policies.

This is an almost identical message to one Obama gave in a policy speech at the Kennedy Space Center in April 2010, when he said, “We’ve got to do it in a smart way … and we can’t just keep on doing the same old things we’ve been doing and thinking that’s going to get us where we want to go.”

Both the Obama and Romney campaigns also stress the need for private sector companies to invest in space travel and exploration.

The Obama campaign reacted to Ryan’s comment Saturday afternoon by noting that Ryan voted against NASA funding twice in the 2008 and 2010 NASA Authorization Acts, and pointing a critique Romney gave to Newt Gingrich in the primary when he campaigned on the space coast and famously pledged to build a colony on the moon.

“In the past, Mitt Romney has criticized Washington politicians for pandering to Florida voters by making empty promises about space. After his event today, it’s probably time for Romney to have a talk with Paul Ryan. Congressman Ryan has repeatedly voted against NASA funding, and the Romney-Ryan budget’s cuts — if applied across the board — would cut funding for space exploration programs by 19 percent,” Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner said in a statement.

Although space hasn’t been an issue discussed much by the Romney-Ryan campaign, the rising national debt is. Standing in front of a national debt clock ticking up, the GOP vice presidential nominee unveiled a new power point presentation at the event detailing the debt and how it affects Americans.

It was moments after hitting the president on space, but it remains unclear, besides the campaign’s promise of continued space exploration without “more funding,” how the two issues — space exploration while cutting the national debt — would be accomplished.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Newt Gingrich Says Cash, Prizes Will Spur Space Technology

Richard Ellis/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Moon colonies aside, Newt Gingrich has some seemingly unorthodox ideas about spurring innovation.

Forget federal grant programs or loan guarantees, Gingrich wants to win the 21st century space race with prizes, contests and challenges.  With multimillion-dollar prize purses and the prospect of nationwide bragging rights on the line, Gingrich claims such challenges will spur development for a fraction of the cost.

Gingrich proposes devoting 10 percent of NASA’s budget to prizes.  And with an $18.7 billion budget, Gingrich’s plan would set aside nearly $2 billion to NASA-sponsored contests each year.

“You put up a bunch of interesting prizes, you are going to have so many people showing up who want to fly, it’s going to be unbelievable,” Gingrich said last week in Florida.

But Gingrich’s contest call is old news to NASA and the dozens of other federal departments who have been running such innovation challenge programs for years.  At least 38 federal agencies have offered 151 contests and awarded more than $33 million in prizes, according to, the administration’s catch-all website for federal challenges.

Eighteen contests are currently open with prizes ranging from $200 for creating a communication campaign to raise awareness about mental health issues, to $7.5 million for developing an ultra-efficient replacement for the common light bulb.

“Generally speaking, we’re trying to make it possible for a citizen inventor to exploit their innate creativity,” NASA’s deputy chief technologist, Joseph Parrish, said of the space program’s Centennial Challenges. “We think it’s been fantastically successful.”

NASA has awarded $6 million in prizes over the nine-year life of its Centennial Challenge competitions to innovators of space gloves, energy-efficient planes and other revamped technologies.

Parrish said that multimillion-dollar price tag has “paid off many times over.”

And while Parrish claims the challenge programs have been “incredibly successful” in helping NASA solve complex problems, government-issued challenges have also been a “blessing” to the contestants participating, said Manuel Cebrian, a research scientist at the University of California, San Diego, who has participated in two such contests.

Cebrian, who won a Defense Department challenge in 2009, said that without government-sponsored challenges, social scientists like himself would not have the resources to conduct such specific research.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rick Perry Accuses Obama of Leaving Astronauts to 'Hitchhike into Space'

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As America bids farewell to the space shuttle era on Thursday, likely presidential candidate Rick Perry appears none too pleased with the Obama administration, accusing the president of “leaving American astronauts with no alternative but to hitchhike into space.”

In a sharply worded statement issued by the governor of Texas -- the state is home to the Johnson Space Center -- Perry charges that the Obama administration “continues to lead federal agencies and programs astray, this time forcing NASA away from its original purpose of space exploration, and ignoring its groundbreaking past and enormous future potential.”

Thursday marked the final flight of the space shuttle as the Shuttle Atlantis landed before dawn at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Shuttles flew 135 flights over the last three decades. Americans will still live on the International Space Station, but they will have to use Russian craft and private companies for transportation to and from space.

The International Space Station is expected to remain in use until 2020.

Near the end of the statement from Perry’s office is a note that the Johnson Space Center employs 3,000 people and draws in the business of about 50 outside companies and 12,000 contract positions. “An estimated 4,000 contract positions will be lost due to the end of the shuttle program," according to the statement.

Perry, who appears to be laying the groundwork to enter the 2012 presidential race, did not mention President George W. Bush's role in the end of the space shuttle era. In 2004 at a speech at NASA headquarters, Bush laid out what the White House called his "New Vision For Space Exploration," which called for the retirement of the space shuttle.

Back then, Bush called for the space shuttle to be taken out of service in 2010.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Supreme Court: NASA Can Ask Employees about Drug Use

Photo Courtesy - NASA(WASHINGTON) – The Supreme Court Wednesday upheld the government's right to ask federal contract employees about past drug use.

Twenty-eight employees of the California Institute of Technology, who work at a multi-billion dollar research and development facility owned by NASA, filed suit against the government arguing that its background checks violate their constitutional right to privacy.

In an 8-0 decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito, the Court said that the background check was constitutional because of the government's interest as an "employer and proprietor" to manage its internal operations.
"The Government has good reason to ask employees about their recent illegal-drug use," Justice Alito wrote. “Like any employer, the Government is entitled to have its projects staffed by reliable, law-abiding persons who will efficiently and effectively discharge their duties."

It was only in 2007 that NASA changed its policy and required the contractors -- many of whom had worked for years in the facility -- to undergo the same background checks as federal employees.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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