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What will Obama do with NASA?

Tom Jackson • Mar 23, 2010 at 6:26 PM

President Barack Obama is nearing a decision on which way he'll take the space program, and his choice could have a dramatic effort on the fortunes of NASA Plum Brook Station.

According to this article in the Orlando Sentinel, a panel that is examining various options is leaning toward recommending Obama scrap Constellation, instead using  "a rocket with a liquid oxygen and kerosene engine that would be designed and operated by a commercial company and bought by NASA."

The article continues, "While the purchasing approach could save billions of dollars and provide a robust and inspiring space program, it would dramatically change the way NASA does business and would likely result in the loss of hundreds, if not thousands, of civil servant and contractor jobs, especially at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and Kennedy Space Center, which is already looking at as many as 7,000 lost contractor jobs when the space shuttle retires, now planned for the end of next year.

"Experts say the final decision -- whether America wants an affordable but perhaps less inspiring human space exploration program or a robust costlier one with lots of pizazz -- will be ultimately up to President Obama."

Yesterday, hours after new NASA administrator Charlie Bolden visited NASA Plum Brook Station, I asked Sen. Sherrod Brown if he was keeping on eye on NASA and how its plans could affect Plum Brook and northern Ohio.

"I met with the NASA administrator before confirmation, so I could talk to him about those issues, Brown said. (Charles Bolden, who visited NASA Plum Brook on Thursday.) "I met with his top assistant, Lori Garver ... She and he have a great interest in Plum Brook and a great interest in NASA Cleveland, in both installations, same place. I think we need to use Sandusky and the airport in Cleveland, Brook Park NASA Glenn,  for way more job creation than we have done .... that's been a jewel in this state we have not nearly polished as much as we should have."

I mentioned to Brown that many local leaders in Erie County consider a runway at Plum Brook a top priority for obtaining federal stimulus funds.

"We are working on it and we hope to make it happen," Brown said.

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