The Washington spin is that NASA is a loser in the just released budget just released by the Obama administration.
The Washington Post’s Federal Eye divided the $3.5 trillion budget into the federal agencies that appear to have won and those that the editor - Ed O’Keefe - believe have lost. Winning agencies include the DOD, EPA and Americorps.
Losers include the Department of Homeland Security, the very concept of privatization and yes, NASA. The reason for the inclusion of the space agency on the loser list? Well, O’Keefe admits that NASA is securing additional funds, and that the plans for the return to the moon are untouched. But then he wanders off the map.
"Obama's budget creates a gap between the current Space Shuttle program, set to expire in April 2010, and the next-generation Constellation program, slated for takeoff in 2015," the Post states. "During the "Shuttle gap" the U.S. will depend on Russia for rides to the International Space Station. Members of the Space community are understandably concerned about the five-year gap."
I like that. The gap is the creation of the Obama budget. Not the failed policies of the space community for the past two decades, and not the inability to place our technical requirements ahead of politics. And lets not forget the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, which urged retirement of the shuttle fleet sooner rather than later.
Our dependence on the Russians is a badge of shame. Not because the Russians are incapable or unwilling, but because of what is says about the conduct of our space policy.
Inclusion of NASA in the “loser” category may well be the right editorial move, but certainly not because of the five week old Obama administration.