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Obama defends space plan at NASA

After taking heat for proposing cuts to NASA, President Barack Obama is delivering a speech at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral reviving part of a program his administration had initially canceled and reassuring people in Florida's Space Coast that he cares about space exploration.

"I am 100 percent committed to the mission of NASA and its future," Obama said to applause. "Because broadening our capabilities in space will continue to save our society in ways we could scarcely imagine."

He acknowledged that the space agency's budget "has risen and fallen with political winds" and touted raising NASA's budget by $6 billion over the next five years: "This is happening even as we have instituted a freeze on discretionary spending and sought to make cuts elsewhere in the budget."

As expected, the president announced keeping a portion of the moon-rocket Constellation program, the successor to the retiring space shuttle. He said his plan will bring more than 2,500 jobs to the Space Coast and deflected criticism that -- under the revised proposal -- plans to go send astronauts to the moon would be scrapped.

"I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We've been there before," Obama said. "There's a lot more of space to explore."


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