As the election cycle begins to draw to a close, newspapers begin to offer their endorsements of one candidate for president or another. In two endorsements, NASA and space policy has taken a prominent place in the reason stated to elect Mitt Romney.
The Houston Chronicle mentions NASA as reason for electing Romney
In its formal endorsement of Romney, the Houston Chronicle notes the failure of the Obama administration to select Houston as a venue for displaying a space shuttle. Invoking the late Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride, the Chronicle accused the Obama administration of lacking a vision for space exploration and for allowing a situation to arise in which American astronauts must pay $50 million a seat on the Russian Soyuz for rides to the International Space Station.
Justin Kugler disagrees with the Houston Chronicle
Justin Kugler, an aerospace engineer and a space activist, wrote a response piece to the Houston Chronicle's endorsement of Romney, disputing its assessment of Obama's space program. Kugler noted that the decision to end the space shuttle program, which has led to the reliance on the Russian Soyuz, was made during the George W. Bush administration. Kugler also defended the Obama approach to space exploration, though he also criticized its implementation as "pork." Kugler also suggested that Houston did not deserve to display a shuttle orbiter on the merits, rather, as the Chronicle suggested, because of political animus against Texas.
Jeff Foust, at Space Politics, weighs in
Jeff Foust, at the Space Politics blog, also notes that the current reliance on the Russian Soyuz dates back to Bush administration polices. Foust also suggests that invoking Sally Ride to criticize the Obama space program was inappropriate as Ride was a supporter of those policies and of President Obama. Foust notes that Romney has not actually formulated a space policy and that therefore there is little basis to support him on that basis.
Two Romney advisers endorse their candidate
Scott Pace, formerly of NASA, and Eric Anderson, CEO of Space Adventures, a space tourism firm, wrote a piece in Space News endorsing Mitt Romney on the basis of space policy. They accuse Obama of having a lack of leadership concerning NASA and of having abandoned a bi-partisan consensus concerning space exploration by his cancellation of the Constellation program. They also criticize Obama's approach to national security where it concerns space. Both Pace and Anderson are Romney space advisers.
Jim Kohlenberger begs to disagree
Also in Space News, Jim Kohlenberger, a former White House science and technology adviser, offers a point by point defense of the Obama space program, invoking at one point the spirit of the Apollo program. Kohlenberger also accuses Romney of plotting to slash NASA spending and of making claims that America is a "nation in decline." He also disputes the notion that the Obama space policy is directionless and without focus.
NASA Watch's Keith Cowing attacks Pace and Anderson
In his critique of the Pace/Anderson piece, NASA Watch's Keith Cowing accused Pace and Anderson of being a "pair of memory-challenged hypocrites." He notes that Anderson has praised Obama commercial space policy in the past. He accuses Pace of participating in the policies during the Bush administration that resulted in the reliance on the Russian Soyuz.
Mark R. Whittington is the author of Children of Apollo and The Last Moonwalker. He has written on space subjects for a variety of periodicals, including The Houston Chronicle, The Washington Post, USA Today, the L.A. Times, and The Weekly Standard.
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