Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Matter of Perspective


Click the arrow to watch President Barack Obama's campaign speech in Melbourne on September 9, 2012.

From Kennedy Space Center to Saturday's Barack Obama campaign rally in Kissimmee, it's about 60 miles.

To today's rally in Melbourne, it's about 50 miles.

Yet disappointment is already being expressed in some quarters because the President's stump speech today didn't have at its core a long passionate discourse about America's government space program.

The closest he came was this sentence:

We’ve begun an ambitious new direction for NASA by laying the groundwork for 21st century spaceflight and innovation.

As a space advocate, of course I would have loved to have heard him talk more about space. But we have to realize that there's more to the future of this nation than just space exploration, and exploitation.

Melbourne is in the Space Coast (Brevard County), but it really isn't "space central." Kennedy Space Center is in north Brevard. Melbourne is closer to south Brevard. Most KSC workers live near KSC. Few are near Melbourne.

Just my opinion, but I think the best strategy to make a space statement would be for the President to return to KSC in October for the first SpaceX commercial cargo flight to the International Space Station under its new Commercial Resupply Services contract. It would be the administration's opportunity to declare victory for its competitive, innovative approach to accessing low Earth orbit.

Even so, many locals wouldn't care, because they view NASA as a government guaranteed jobs program. They couldn't care less about innovation and efficiency.

So an October visit shouldn't be viewed as a vindication. It should be viewed in the context of the "forward" message at the core of the Obama campaign. We're not going back to the old way of doing things at NASA, with programs that go billions over budget and fall years behind schedule while protecting jobs with contractors that donate to election campaigns. We're liberating space from government control, opening low Earth orbit to the private sector and creating a new economy.

It may not appeal to the Republicans and Tea Partiers who dominate north Brevard County politics. But it will appeal beyond Brevard County to those across the nation who are inspired by 21st Century technology and achievements such as the Curiosity rover on Mars.

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