President Barack Obama on Thursday said that NASA’s Constellation program would be terminated in favor of channeling $6 billion to commercial spacecraft developers.
Obama’s plan is to increase NASA’s budget by $6 billion over five years and shift the responsibility for space transportation to private companies, which would be encouraged to “compete to design and build and launch new means of carrying people and materials out of our atmosphere.” They would be responsible not just for designing and building the rockets and spaceships, which they largely do already, but also for conducting flights to the International Space Station.
Critics argued the current program was too costly and yielding little results. The diversion of funds may result in a loss of 8,000 jobs at the space center. However, the administration believes the commercial investment will increase jobs to an even higher level.
The White House believes that by 2012 up to 2,500 new jobs will be created in Floridaâ€™s commercial space industry than would have been available under NASA had Constellation continued, off-setting the job losses by about 60 percent.
Furthermore, the economic impact will be reduced by dedicating “$40 million to supporting the regional economy.” Brevard County, home of the John F. Kennedy Space Center, is already at 12.7% unemployment so citizens are skeptical whether Obama’s new plan will succeed.
Below is the White House video of the President’s announcement today.
Do you think Obama should continue privatizing space travel to increase competition or should more of it remain under NASA?