The Romney campaign today released a space policy white paper titled, "Securing U.S. Leadership in Space."
The introduction states:
Unfortunately, President Obama has failed to deliver a coherent policy for human space exploration and space security. As a result, he has created uncertainty and confusion within U.S. industry and the international community. The President’s disjointed collection of scientific projects lack guiding principles, plausible objectives, or a roadmap for long-run success. They also have left American astronauts to hitch rides into space on Russian spacecraft. America’s capabilities are eroding, and with each passing year will become more difficult to rebuild.
As I've written many times, the current "gap" requiring U.S. astronauts to "hitch rides" on the Russian Soyuz was created by the Bush administration in January 2004. In the wake of the Columbia accident, President Bush proposed that crew rotations move to the Soyuz as it was considered to be safer and cheaper. Bush also proposed that the Shuttle be retired once International Space Station construction was completed circa 2010; at that time, the United States would have a minimum four-year gap where it relied on Russia until the next crewed vehicle would be ready. All that was approved by Congress, and has been U.S. policy for eight years.
The same falsehood is repeated on Page 4:
For the first time since the dawn of the Space Age, the United States has no clear plan for putting its own astronauts into space.
The United States has a very "clear plan." It's called commercial crew.
On August 2, 2012, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden announced the winners of the commerical crew competition.
Click the arrow to watch the announcement of the three companies that will build vehicles capable of taking astronauts to the International Space Station.
Romney also asserts on Page 4 that "U.S. partners have reluctantly concluded that the United States is no longer serious about leading in space," without providing any evidence to back up that claim.
On Page 6, the document states, "Mitt Romney will strive to rebuild an institution worthy of our aspirations and capable once again of leading the world toward new frontiers."
But don't count on any more money to achieve this.
On the same page it states:
A strong and successful NASA does not require more funding, it needs clearer priorities. Romney will ensure that NASA has practical and sustainable missions. There will be a balance of pragmatic and top-priority science with inspirational and groundbreaking exploration programs.
So if there won't be any more money, how will Romney pay for these "inspirational and groundbreaking exploration programs" that he doesn't name?
That's what Bush did when he proposed the Constellation program — lots of "vision" but very little additional funding, which led to its demise.
And contradicting his assertion on Page 4 that the U.S. has no "clear plan for putting its own astronauts into space," on Page 7 Romney essentially endorses the current commercial crew strategy:
NASA will look whenever possible to the private sector to provide repeatable space-based services like human and cargo transport to and from low Earth orbit. It will provide clear and timely guidance as to expected needs so the private sector can plan and invest accordingly.
You can read the document and judge for yourself, but in my opinion this document has about as much integrity as all things Romney.
UPDATE September 22, 2012 — Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan spoke yesterday in Orlando at the University of Central Florida. Click here to watch:
Ryan said he was "in the Space Coast." He was actually about 40 miles away. He might want to look at a map.
As for his claim in the video that Obama broke promises made to the Space Coast, click here to read my August 2011 article reviewing what promises Obama made and which ones he kept.
Left unmentioned by Ryan is how his Republican brethren in the U.S. Senate filibustered the President's $35 million jobs bill to help the Space Coast, preventing its passage.