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10 September 2008

McCain & Obama's Positions on Space Exploration

A bit of a long read.  McCain goes first because his is much shorter.

As President, John McCain will – 

  • Ensure that space exploration is top priority and that the U.S. remains a leader;
  • Commit to funding the NASA Constellation program to ensure it has the resources it needs to begin a new era of human space exploration.
  • Review and explore all options to ensure U.S. access to space by minimizing the gap between the termination of the Space Shuttle and the availability of its replacement vehicle; 
  • Ensure the national space workforce is maintained and fully utilized; Complete construction of the ISS National Laboratory;
  • Seek to maximize the research capability and commercialization possibilities of the ISS National Laboratory;
  • Maintain infrastructure investments in Earth-monitoring satellites and support systems;
  • Seek to maintain the nation's space infrastructure;
  • Prevent wasteful earmarks from diverting precious resources from critical scientific research;
  • Ensure adequate investments in aeronautics research.

As President, Barack Obama will –

  • Re-establish the National Aeronautics and Space Council (NASC) to oversee and coordinate civilian, military, commercial and national security space activities.
  • Retaining Options for Additional Shuttle Flights: Barack Obama supports Congressional efforts to add at least one additional Space Shuttle flight to fly a valuable mission and to keep the workforce engaged. He will work to ensure there is adequate funding to support that additional flight so that it does not interfere with developing the Shuttle's successor. 
  • Speeding the Next-Generation Vehicle: Obama will expedite the development of the Shuttle's successor systems for carrying Americans to space so we can minimize the gap. This will be difficult; underfunding by the Bush administration has left NASA with limited flexibility to accelerate the development of the new systems.
  • Using the Private Sector: Obama will stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop and demonstrate spaceflight capabilities. NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services is a good model of government/industry collaboration.
  • Working with International Allies: Obama will enlist international partners to provide International Space Station (ISS) cargo re-supply and eventually alternate means for sending crews to the ISS.
  • Partnering to Enhance the Potential of the ISS: Barack Obama will enlist other Federal agencies, industry and academia to develop innovative scientific and technological research projects on the ISS.
  • Enabling Human Exploration: Obama will use the ISS for fundamental biological and physical research to understand the effects of long-term space travel on human health and to test emerging technologies to enable such travel.
  • Enhancing International Cooperation: The ISS has been a model for international cooperation to achieve peaceful objectives in space, helping develop positive relations with Russia during the 1990s. America must take the next step and use the ISS as a strategic tool in diplomatic relations with non traditional partners.
  • Retaining Options for Extended Operations: Barack Obama will consider options to extend ISS operations beyond 2016. After investing so much in developing the ISS, it would be a shame not to utilize it to the fullest possible extent.
  • Continuing Research and Development Investments to Support Future Missions: Barack Obama will support a robust research and technology development program that addresses the long-term needs for future human and robotic missions. He supports a funding goal that maintains at least 10 percent of the total exploration systems budget for research and development.
  • Drawing in International Partners: Obama will encourage a cooperative framework for the conduct of a long-term and sustainable international exploration initiative. This will enable the United States to leverage its resources and to use space exploration as a tool of global diplomacy. As this framework is developed, Obama will continue NASA's architecture studies and advanced planning to ensure the American space workforce remains engaged and that America can lead the world to long-term exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond, in a collaborative and cost-effective way.
  • Partner to Improve Basic Capabilities: Obama will evaluate whether the private sector can safely and effectively fulfill some of NASA's need for lower earth orbit cargo transport.
  • Leveraging Robotic Capabilities to Explore the Solar System: Obama supports increased investment in research, data analysis, and technology development across the full suite of exploration missions including the Mars Sample Return mission and future missions to the Moon, asteroids, Lagrange points, the outer Solar System, and other destinations.
  • Supporting Space-Based Observatories: Platforms like the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X- Ray Observatory, the Gamma Ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope have yielded some of the greatest scientific discoveries of the last century. Obama is committed to a bold new set of such platforms and programs to expand our knowledge of the cosmos.
  • Stopping Political Interference: Barack Obama will strengthen baseline climate observations and climate data records to ensure that there are long-term and accurate climate records. He will not use climate change research data for political objectives.
  • Supporting Global Food and Water Needs: The Global Precipitation Measurement mission is an international effort to improve climate, weather, and hydrological predictions through more accurate and more frequent precipitation measurements. Obama will work to launch this mission without further delay.
  • Enhancing Earth Mapping: Obama will continue support for the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, which allows study of the earth's land surfaces and provides valuable data for agricultural, educational, scientific, and government use.
  • Supporting Fundamental Research: Barack Obama will pursue more long-term fundamental research to reduce the risk associated with advancing the state of the art.
  • Advancing Future Transportation Needs: The Obama administration will support aeronautics research to address aviation safety, air traffic control, and noise reduction.
  • Promoting Fuel Efficiency: Rising oil prices not only impact motorists at the pump, they are also squeezing airlines and even the U.S. Air Force, which spent $5.8 billion on fuel in 2006, up from $2.8 billion in 2004. Advanced aeronautical research at NASA could dramatically improve the fuel efficiency of military and civilian aircraft, reducing costs for passengers and taxpayers alike. Barack Obama will support such research.
  • Collaborating on Exploration: The United States needs to fully involve international partners in future exploration plans to help reduce costs and to continue close ties with our ISS partners. NASA has been working with 13 other space agencies to develop a globally coordinated approach to space exploration; Barack Obama will not only continue but intensify this effort. Human exploration beyond low-earth orbit should be a long-term goal and investment for all space faring countries, with America in the lead. 
  • Collaborating on Climate Change Research: Barack Obama will expand and deepen American collaboration with international partners on climate research, both to increase understanding of climate challenges and to demonstrate American leadership in this arena.
  • Negotiating Agreements on "Rules of the Road": Barack Obama will work with other nations to develop "rules of the road" for space to ensure all nations have a common understanding of acceptable behavior. 
  • Opposing Weaponization of Space: Space assets are increasingly important to our national security and our economy, but they are also extremely vulnerable. China's successful test of an anti-satellite missile in January 2007 signaled the beginning of a potential new arms race in space. Barack Obama opposes the stationing of weapons in space and the development of anti-satellite weapons. He believes the United States must show leadership by engaging other nations in discussions of how best to stop the slow slide towards a new battlefield. 
  • Protecting America's Space Assets: Recognizing their vulnerability, Obama will work to protect our assets in space by pursuing new technologies and capabilities that allow us to avoid attacks and recover from them quickly. The Operationally Responsive Space program, which uses smaller, more nimble space assets to make US systems more robust and less vulnerable is a way to invest in this capability.
  • Enhancing the Role of NASA as a Premier Institution of Innovation: Engineers and scientists at NASA have developed state-of-the-art innovations across the technological spectrum in areas ranging from solar cells and imaging to communications and aeronautics. Barack Obama will renew NASA's commitment to innovation-driving basic research that the private sector can use to develop new products for American consumers. 
  • Increasing Commercialization Benefits: Obama will promote cost sharing initiatives between government and industry to increase the state of the art in various technical areas, such as micro- electromechanical systems, nanotechnology, and biotechnology. Obama will establish multi-agency programs that focus on rapid maturation of advanced concepts and transfer to industry for commercialization. 
  • Jumpstarting Consumer Technology: Obama will expand the use of prizes for revolutionary technical achievements that can benefit society, and funds for joint industry/government rapid-to-the- consumer technology advances. 
  • Supporting Commercial Access to Space: Obama will stimulate the commercial use of space and private sector utilization of the International Space Station. He will establish new processes and procurement goals to promote the use of government facilities. We must unleash the genius of private enterprise to secure the United States' leadership in space. 
  • Revising Regulations for Aerospace Export Control: Some sections of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) have unduly hampered the competitiveness of domestic aerospace industry. Outdated restrictions have cost billions of dollars to American satellite and space hardware manufacturers as customers have decided to purchase equipment from European suppliers. While protecting our national security interests, Barack Obama will direct a review of the ITAR to reevaluate restrictions imposed on American companies, with a special focus on space hardware that is currently restricted from commercial export. He will also direct revisions to the licensing process to ensure that American suppliers are competitive in the international aerospace markets, without jeopardizing American national security. 
  • Expanding the American Skill Base in Science and Engineering: Barack Obama fully supports efforts to advance new frontiers in technical areas, such as advanced structures, power generation, communication and navigation systems, and biomedical systems. These efforts address the requirements for exploration, but also have high potential for technological benefits in the private sector as well as in training the next generation of scientists and engineers.