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Barack Obama Outlines Extensive, Detailed Space Plan (News) August 17, 2008

Posted by Nick Azer in Astrobotic, Current News, economy, McCain, National Aeronautics and Space Council, Obama, Operationally Responsive Space, private sector, space conflict.
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Today, presidential candidate Barack Obama has released a new, extensive plan for the future of American space exploration. (John McCain’s plan; I’ll put up a full analysis of McCain’s corresponding plan in the coming days.)

Obama’s plan is a big one: a total of 3,486 words and six pages as a PDF (versus McCain’s, which has 989 words), with plenty of details and specifics. Some moon colonization-specific highlights:

  • This statement, in particular, stuck out to me, in reference to his plan: “…achieving this vision, Obama will reach out to include international partners and to engage the private sector to amplify NASA’s reach.” That sounds a lot like what companies such as Astrobotic (see bottom of that page) are suggesting is a better system (and are positioning themselves to be the deliverers of): have government agencies utilize private sector companies for services such as data collection, in order to save on costs and spur private sector development. It’s very interesting to see such particular wording in Obama’s plan: ‘amplify NASA’s reach’.
  • Obama goes on to state that he would reinstate the National Aeronautics and Space Council, originally in operation from 1958 to 1973 and last seen briefly from 1989 to 1992. It would report directly to the president, and “coordinate civilian, military, commercial and national security space activities”. This is a very significant idea, that could go a long way in spurring our heels in the Base Race.
  • The plan states support for international cooperation, noting NASA’s current efforts and that Obama will “not only continue but intensify this effort”.
  • Specific support is put forward for the prevention of armed conflict in space, with Obama stating he would “work with other nations to develop ‘rules of the road'” for “acceptable behavior”; oppose “the stationing of weapons in space”; and work to protect assets from attack and enable rapid recovery from them, specifically noting the Operationally Responsive Space program as a method of this.
  • Regarding commercial access to space, Obama says we must “unleash the genius of private enterprise to secure the United States’ leadership in space”. Now that’s a statement.

To summarize, the most significant info one can take from this plan is probably the rather specific nature of his commerical sector statements: “Unleash the genius…”, “amplify NASA’s reach”… Mr. Obama sounds very serious about spurring the private sector, and his related points in the plan are some of the least generic of report.

Often time, big economic booms in America are spurred by the rise of new industry (the World War II build-up, the 90’s internet boom), and with the economy in the state it’s in, perhaps Obama sees the potentially explosive commercial space industry as one of the ways out.

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