— Democratic presidential candidate BarackObama has revised his plan for ensuring American leadership in space, a retired senior
space official told a gathering of left-leaning bloggers in
Speaking July 18 at a Netroots Nation 2008 conference session on NASA under the next administration, Patti Grace Smith, a longtime government executive who stepped down this year as head of the Federal Aviation Agency’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, said the eight-point plan the Obama campaign issued in January has since been whittled down to five key areas.
revised “Plan for American Leadership in Space” no longer mentions using surveillance satellites to monitor compliance with nonproliferation treaties and to keep an eye on countries such as
. Nor does the plan, with its sharpened civil space focus, talk about the importance of strengthening math and science education.
What remains, according to Smith, is a plan that reaffirms Obama’s commitment to finishing development of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, completing assembly of the international space station, ensuring NASA has the necessary funds to monitor climate change, supporting scientific research in general and keeping weapons out of space.
“He thinks the international community must address the issue of space weaponization head on and enter into a serious dialogue with
and other nations to stop this slow slide into a new battlefield,” Smith said. “I’m glad that he is focused on those areas. There may be other areas that we can also inform the discussion on. But to be able to get those original eight areas now down to five with the key focus on things that I think many of us would agree ought to be focused on I think is a good step forward.”
Smith did not say during the Netroots Nation panel discussion what, if any, connection she has to the Obama campaign. She was introduced by the session’s moderator as a former
Smith told Space News July 22 that she is “an early Obama supporter and fundraiser” but that she is not a campaign representative nor was she speaking on the campaign’s behalf.
“Let me just say that I was summarizing points that were already released as part of Obama’s plan,” Smith said.
The revised five-point plan Smith summarized in
could not be found July 22 on the Obama ’08 Web site. Carlos Monje, the Obama campaign’s point person for space, did not respond to an e-mail request for the revised plan.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s space policy is spelled out in a one-paragraph statement posted on his campaign Web site.
In it, the Arizona senator is characterized as a “strong supporter of NASA” who is “proud to have sponsored legislation authorizing funding consistent with the President’s vision for the space program, which includes a return of astronauts to the Moon in preparation for a manned mission to Mars.”
The McCain campaign’s statement concludes: “He believes support for a continued
presence in space is of major importance to
‘s future innovation and security. He has also been a staunch advocate for ensuring that NASA funding is accompanied by proper management and oversight to ensure that the taxpayers receive the maximum return on their investment. John McCain believes curiosity and a drive to explore have always been quintessential American traits. This has been most evident in the space program, for which he will continue his strong support.”