Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Space Progress


Today is the one-year mark of Barack Obama’s presidency. In January of 2009, a subsidiary website of the St. Petersburg Times called PolitiFact has compiled more than 500 promises that Barack Obama made during the campaign and is tracking their progress on the Obameter.

They rate the status as In the Works or Stalled. Once their reporters find action is completed, they rate them Promise Kept, Compromise or Promise Broken.

Last year, I introduced their initial report card for all space-related promises on the campaign trail... so I thought I’d post an update here on his one-year anniversary of being in office.

Stalled... #150: Code of Conduct for space-faring nations

Stalled... #331: Re-establish National Aeronautics & Space Council

DONE... #332: Additional Space Shuttle flight

Working #333: Speed development of next-gen space vehicle

DONE... #334: Use private sector to improve space flight

Working #335: Work with international allies on ISS

DONE... #336: Partner to enhance potential of ISS

DONE... #337: Use ISS for biological + physical research

DONE... #338: Explore whether ISS can operate after 2016

Working #339: Support human mission to moon by 2020

Stalled... #340: Robust R&D on future human/robotic missions

Stalled... #341: Increase spending for long missions [Mars, asteroids]

DONE... #342: Deploy global climate change monitoring system

Working #343: Improve climate change data records

DONE... #345: Enhance earth mapping

Working #349: Support commercial access to space

Working #350: Revise regulations for export of aerospace technology

Working #351: School programs to highlight space science achievement

So, the overall score sheet for us hopeful space enthusiasts shows 7 promises kept, 7 in the works, and 4 in a holding pattern due to budget restrictions or administrative debates. I personally don’t think that’s a bad track record by any means – though now that the national news is rife with the Constellation program being a "house of cards," of course we always want more!

#341 is the one over which many of us are desperate for news. No one truly believes we are about to see the death of long-duration manned spaceflight, or that "astronaut" will no longer be an occupation... but wow, there have been some awfully sad songs in the news lately.

Here at the crossroads, we impatiently away the upcoming State of the Union address, when most believe Obama will make his next announcement about human spaceflight.