President Obama visits Kennedy Space Center

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Under pressure from Congress and space boosters from across the country, President Barack Obama  is visiting Kennedy Space Center today and in a huge about turn he is expected to announce  that he plans to revive part of the Constellation moon program, start a new heavy-rocket development project and create a $40 million initiative to help Kennedy Space Center  workers find jobs after the space shuttle is retired later this year.

Obama is scheduled to deliver remarks at KSC’s Operations and Checkout Building and afterwards, a conference of space experts will discuss how to make the new plan work.

Up to 9,000 KSC workers are set to lose their jobs when the shuttle era ends. But the White House says Obama’s plans for KSC — including nearly $2 billion for a five-year modernization program that had been previously announced — would add 2,500 jobs “as compared to the prior path” that included the Constellation moon-rocket program.

Earlier this year the President stated that he intended to cancel the Ares rockets, Orion crew capsule and Altair  lunar lander that made up the Constellation program that was slated to replace the space shuttle and return astronauts to the moon by 2020.

Obama’s plan ran into fierce opposition from members of Congress with NASA districts, even though Constellation was over budget and years behind schedule. They complained that Obama has not laid out details of when — or how — NASA would return to the business of exploring the cosmos.

Now, according to administration officials, Obama is expected to say that he plans to revive Constellation’s Orion capsule, reconfiguring it to fly aboard a commercial rocket to the space station, where it would serve as an emergency lifeboat for the six-member crew. That would mean as many as 400 jobs at Kennedy Space Center to assemble and integrate the Apollo-like spacecraft before flight.

We’ll see… looks and sounds to me that no-one really has a plan and that it’s all political pressure driving this as the economy is in a mess and it’s not going to look good throwing more people out of work. I read a sign yesterday that said “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”… mmmmm.

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