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President Obama gave a policy speech April 15, outlining his commitment to continue manned exploration beyond low Earth orbit and to continue the government-private sector partnership that has been a hallmark of America’s success in space. While the speech brought new details to the forefront including long-term goals and a mandate to aid in the job transition caused by the change in space mission, in a statement released after the speech, AIA called for “more immediate specifics and short-term milestones that will allow us to measure our progress toward America’s space program.” Read the full release.
Obama speaks at Kennedy Space Center. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
In the days leading up to the highly anticipated space summit in Florida, AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey sent a letter to the President laying out two areas of concern: the future of American leadership in human exploration beyond low earth orbit and the need for a long-term space strategy that coordinates space efforts across all federal agencies, takes into account the impact of various decisions on the U.S. space industrial base and ties budget and resources to national goals driven by leadership and vision.
Blakey's speech before the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches in Florida April 12 specifically referenced the President’s speech April 15, saying, “What we hope is that the President will lay out the plan to get us to Mars. Articulating the vision is not enough, we must have specific milestones and the funding to achieve them.” Blakey went on to mention AIA’s deep concerns about the impact of the President’s budget, “The future of our manufacturing workforce and our space industrial base has much at stake in what he’ll tell us and the decisions he makes.”
Blakey set forward three cornerstones of space policy: U.S. leadership in space is critical to our nation’s prosperity, there is no substitute for the hands-on experience gained from human exploration of space and we must develop a national space strategy.
But there is a great deal of work to be done and there will be significant debate as Congress reviews the details of the Administration’s policy, along with the budget submission and proposal to cancel the Constellation program.
In addition to concerns about a national space strategy, a priority for AIA is the space industrial base and the importance of space exploration as a source of inspiration for students, “We want young people who are in elementary school now to view our nation’s space enterprise with the same sense of awe, excitement and anticipation the President spoke of today, and to seek careers there tomorrow,” Blakey said on April 15. That inspiration is especially important, given that our goal of reaching Mars will not be accomplished by the current generation of aerospace workers, but rather by the generations that follow.
AIA source: dan.stohr[at]aia-aerospace.org