« Florida a fertile ground for the pro-gun lobby | Main | Could new cities -- and more elected officials -- be coming to Miami-Dade County? »

60 Minutes highlights Obama's broken promise on space program, jobs. Paging Bill Nelson...

When then-presidential candidate Barack Obama came to the heart of the nation's space program, Brevard County, he promised that he'd protect space-industry jobs in the face of NASA budget cuts under President Bush. Obama namechecked one-time astronaut and current Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson as an ally in Congress to ensure it all got done.

Take a look around today, and you'll see the results didn't match Obama's rhetoric.

"Fifty years of liftoffs are becoming eight months of layoffs. Have a look around Brevard County. It's shrinking. Lots of people are moving away, taking businesses down with them," 60 Minutes' Scott Pelley intoned last night in a segment called "Hard Landing."

"The 7,000 layoffs at the space center triggered 7,000 more in the community. Unemployment has been close to 11 percent."

Pelley goes on to note that, in 2010, Obama cancelled NASA's Constellation program and "then, Congress dealt another blow, by cutting the funding for the Obama plan in half."

That's a sign this was a bipartisan deal. And it also goes to show that, despite the Republican talking point that government spending doesn't create jobs, it does. And its absence costs them.

The show features out-of-work space program casualties taking Obama to task. Politically speaking, Brevard County isn't a high priority for Democrats (the county backed McCain while Florida backed Obama). But Sen. Nelson has always counted on Brevard in his elections, and the job picture there could complicate that for him this election year -- regardless of how hard he fought for the space program.

Some excerpts from Obama's space speech in August 2008:

"When I was growing up, NASA inspired the world with achievements that we're still proud of...

"Today we have an administration that sets ambitious goals for NASA without giving NASA the support it needs to reach them. As a result, NASA's had to cut back on research, trim their program, which means that after the space shuttle shuts down in 2010, we're going to have to rely on Russian space craft to keep us into orbit.

"So let me be clear: we canot cede our leadership in space. That's why I'm going to close the gap, ensure that our space program doesn't suffer when the shuttle goes out of service. We may extend an additional shuttle launch. We're going to work with Bill Nelson to add at least one flight after 2010 by continuing to support NASA funding, by speeding the development of the shuttle's successor, by making sure that all those who work in the space industry in Florida do not lose their jobs when the shuttle is retired because we cant afford to lose their expertise. But more broadly, we need a real vision for the next stage of space exploration...."


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Saving Florida's Future

So Bill Nelson fought against cuts to the Space Coast even within his own party but you carry the torch of the Republican meme with your headline giving the impression it was all his fault.


So this is an area where Floridians WANT bigger govt? I just had to guess that most of the space coast is voting for tea party/smaller govt except here when it affects their jobs, and then the subsequent unemployment benefits after the layoffs.


NASA has changed from the old aggressive space-exploring group of organized entrepreneurs and risk-takers that made great strides for our nation and humankind ...

Into a moribund, risk-averse, bunch of disorganized bureaucrats and defenders of the current, dominant science paradigm.

Where Obama dropped the ball was in failing to save manned space programs, while failing to push private manned space flights that don't really need a bureacuracy to get the work done.

At the same time, Obama has kept the largely useless, and pointless NASA bureaucracy in place. Such is typical of the federal government generally, especially as envisioned by Democrats: employees on the government dole not doing anything the people really need to have done.

Chris Hyman

Obama HAS supported save manned space programs . . . much more so than Congress or previous presidents. Let's remember, the Shuttle program set to shut down by 2010 (in the VSE announced in 2004). Obama extended it two missions.
The Orion/Ares (Constellation program) part of the VSE was failing. Obama cut Constellation, but saved and funded the Orion part (the manned capsule).
Obama has tried shifting the direction of LEO manned flight to private enterprise, but this year Congress only gave him HALF of what he asked for to fund that area of manned flight.
Virtually every year he's been in office, he's asked for MORE funding for NASA than Congress has been willing to alot.
Let's point the finger in the right direction . . .

A.J. Smith

Unfortunately this is one thing I don't blame the president on. This program got way too expensive because of all the WAY overpaid people in it!

Don A. Nelson

Obama's Orion political compromise is one that will end in failure. The Orion crew module did not pass the Constellation program safety review. The entry phase for crew module is a potential death trap...just look at all the near failures that the Russian Soyuz has experienced. At NASA it's a management problem not a funding problem. See www.nasaproblems.com


If you have enough money and a lot of people even humpty dumpty could be put back together again. The space shuttle was a dangerous cost over run..old technology of the 60's. It should've been cancelled in the 90's ..by now we could have built true space vehicles. Is this what america is good for maintaining old obsolete equipment.. Space is the high ground..and I mean not this sub-orbital crap..but geo orbit....mining asteriods..industrial platforms..america needs to be pioneers...lets do this....


Nasa management has lost any sence of vision for manned space flight...heavy duty lauch vehicles the size of 30 story towers is nuts...and waste of fuel...we have the tech..to launch from the upper atmosphere the airforce did it in the 60's..we could launch from the rockies..launch from rocket sleds...now is the time to build space vehicles for space with advanced engines based on non-chemical engines....

Jim Hillhouse


Orion didn't pass it's safety review during Constellation? Not true!

Since Congress refused to go along with the President's ill-concieved attempt to end the nation's human space flight program in February 2010, Orion has gone on to pass its hydro-impact tests, parachute tests, pad abort test, and acoustic tests. In fact, Orion is
5-7 years ahead of any other spacecraft of becoming the first spacecraft since the Shuttle to be human rated.

As for NASA spending too much, adjusted for inflation NASA's budget has been in decline for decades. In 1968, NASA's budget was over 5% of the national budget. In 1988, it was barely over 1%. Today, NASA's budget of just under $18 billion is statistically marginal in the nation's budget deficit of $2.6 trillion, never mind the actual budget. Frankly, it's amazing what NASA does with it's budget.

More pointedly, NASA costs the average tax-payer 1/2 of a cent each year. Half a penny. Heck, that's a rounding error for Social Security and Medicare, which gobble-up hundreds of billions annually.


Obama is a LIAR from A-thru Z !!! GET HIM OUT !!!

Don A. Nelson

Orion did fail the Constellation safety review and there is no way it will pass the next!!! Email reply from: NASA Office of Safety and Mission Assurance:

“At PDR, the Cx (Orion) design PRA estimate was better than the requirement for ascent and not there yet for entry. We don’t have a set of level 1 requirements yet for the next NASA developed human system, but we do plan to use the Cx numbers above as part of our human rating requirements set for commercial crew to ISS. I agree this will be a challenge for any capsule for all the reasons you give if not more.”

Don A. Nelson

Orion safety correction...yes the Orion will pass NASA's safety review, but that's only because NASA management will change their safey goal from 1 in 200 for crew capsule entry to 1 failure in 70 entries...no better than shuttle. The facts are that crew capsules like Orion or the commercial Dragon WILL never be safer than the shuttle...they are all single point failure vehicles. Only the shuttle with crew escape pods will improve crew safey...which in not NASA management's number one priority. The SLS/Orion like Constellation is another major blunder...it's unsafe and unaffordable...so prepare for more layoff!!!

Chris Hyman

Hey - Once again, the Shuttle was scheduled to be shut down by 2010. Where were all the complaints in 2004 when this was announced? Obama was extended this program by two flights . . . where were the 'Thank yous' but also worries about the future during those extensions?
Constellation was failing (thought the Orion capsule looked feasible), so Constellation was scrubbed, Orion was kept. Dragon also looks feasible.
This president asked for increased funding for NASA every year except this one, where he did cut, but in that cut, asked for more money for manned flight than Congress budgeted (he asked for twice as much). Again, you may not like him, but in this case, we really can't point the finger at him. I think he's taken the only route that can be taken without more money from Congress.


No one wants to state the obvious? It was President Bush who official retired the space program to end in 2012.

Jeff Shepard

yet another "Lets blame bush" The guy who said the shuttle should have been scrubs back in the 90 was too right. The money it cost to send it up was way over priced. We were sending the shuttle up to deploy sats that could have been sent on a Titan IV at half the cost if not more. The cost of scrubbing a launch of the space shuttle was around 1.2 million dollars. So lets launch the shuttle in an area where they have thunder storm freaking day. Nasa sinking so much money into the shuttle program over the years, makes me want to cry.

The comments to this entry are closed.