Timeline - How the Obama Administration Wrecked NASA
August 7, 2012 • 1:42PM

Updated 8/8/2012 3:40pm edt.

The following timeline is a rough chronicle of how Obama and his administration have systemically attacked NASA Manned Space Missions. It should receive more updates soon...

2007

Nov. 26--While campaigning for the presidency, Obama stated in New Hampshire that his policy for NASA will be to take $5 billion out of the space program, delaying the Constellation manned exploration program for five years, and put the money in to education (whatever that means). It does not matter if we go the Moon or Mars, sooner, or later, he said.

2008

January 23—the run-up to the Florida primary saw space emerge as an issue, in this swing state that had more than 10,000 Space Shuttle workers. Obama said he supported the Bush program to retire the Space Shuttle in 2010.

March—campaign rally, Obama stated that ``NASA is no longer associated with inspiration.’’

August 2—During a visit to Florida, Obama’s ``Plan for Lifetime Success Through Education’’ specified that his $10 billion plan would be paid for, in part, by ``delaying the NASA Constellation for five years.’’ But after he got there, in response to a question, he reversed himself, saying he would find a different ``offset’’ to find the money for education.

August 18—During a campaign appearance in the hotly politically contested swing-state Florida, Obama promises $2 billion in new funding for NASA, to accelerate the Constellation program. The campaign released a space policy paper, endorsing sending astronauts to the Moon by 2020.

2009

Feb. 27—The FY 10 budget request for NASA was $18.7 billion, which included an additional Shuttle flight, but little more detail.

March 11—Meeting with reporters in the White House, Obama said today that there has been a ``sense of drift,’’ in the space program.
June—The Administration charters the Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee, headed by Norm Augustine, to come up with a range of options for the future of the manned space program, considering that Constellation is behind schedule, this due to underfunding by President Bush, who proposed it.

September 15—The Administration is briefed on the Augustine Committee’s findings, and a hearing on the report was held before the House Committee on Science & Technology. The report was made public the following month. The Augustine Committee concluded that, at current funding levels, Constellation was “unsustainable,” and that a $3 billion per year increase in NASA’s budget would be needed to keep it viable. It proposed, instead, four options for the Administration, each of which would end NASA’s Ares 1 program for a new, manned launch vehicle and would start new programs to allow commercial companies to carry crew to Earth orbit.

October 23—The Augustine report was delivered to the President Obama. Rather than a destination, it recommends a ``flexible path’’ to anywhere (or nowhere).

2010

Feb. 2—The FY11 NASA request is released, cancelling Constellation, which included the Orion crew capsule, the Aries 1 rocket to launch Orion in to low-Earth orbit, and the Ares V to take Orion to deep space, and instead proposed to initiate a commercial crew program. It is also proposed that a decision on building a heavy-lift rocket be delayed to 2015.

Feb. 15—Three senior astronauts--Scott Carpenter, Gene Cernan, and Charlie Duke—with other space collaborators, issued a letter to “Mr. and Mrs. America,” urging a public fight to save the space program.

Feb. 29—A letter to Obama from 29 Congressmen accuses the Administration of shutting down the Constellation programs, even though they are authorized by Congress.

March 26—Astronauts Neil Armstrong (Apollo 11), Gene Cernan (Apollo 17), and Jim Lovell (Apollo 13), testify before the House Science & Technology Committee, attacking the Obama anti-space-exploration program.

April 12—A letter by 27 NASA veterans, asked Obama to reconsider his ``misguided proposal.’’

April 13—An open letter by Armstrong, Cernan, and Lovell is circulated, attacking the Obama program.

April 13—Under intense attack for his attack on the manned space program by the Congress, much of the media, and the space community, the Obama Administration announced a ``small concession’’ by reviving the Orion crew capsule, but only to fly to the International Space Station, during a visit to Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. The President said he would increase NASA’s budget by $6 billion, over five years, but that followed a $3.4 billion cut made the previous year in the five-year projection which included ending Constellation. He proposed that the next deep space manned mission be to an asteroid. (This could be a multi-year mission with projected use of today’s chemical propulsion, possibly a 5 million mile trip, as compared to 240,000 miles to the Moon).

April 13—Former Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, and Jim Lovell wrote to Obama that cancelling Constellation would be ``devastating.’’

May 26—Constellation program manager, Jeff Hanley, who would not go along with the cancellation of the program, was fired.

August 3—bills authorizing NASA’s FY11 budget pass the Senate and House authorizing
Committees, once again, scaled back the Administrations request for commercial crew programs, and insist that development towards a heavy-lift launch vehicle start immediately, not in five years.

2011

Feb. 14—The White Houses releases the FY12 budget proposal. For each of the next five years, NASA’s budget is flat. The Administration asks for a doubling of NASA funds in to the commercial crew program, which, in the end, the Congress cuts in half.

April 14—A White House/Congress budget deal takes $250 million away from NASA’s FY11 funding. The compromise cancels future space science missions, such as the Mars Astrobiology Explorer-Catcher (MAX-C) mission, and puts in doubt NASA cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) on the two ExoMars missions. NASA also pulled out of two astrophysics experiments which were also a collaboration with the ESA.

September 22—House Science & Technology Committee hearing on the future of human space flight hears testimony from Apollo astronauts, former NASA Administrator Griffin and scientist Maria Zuber, again passionately slamming the Obama Administration’s attempt to steal the future from the American public. Griffin bluntly asked: ``do we want to have a real space program, or not?’’

Fall 2011: NASA's FY13 budget pass-back from the Office of Management and Budget leads to the resignation of Associate Administrator for Space Science, Ed Weiler, who cites coming dramatic cut-backs in funding for NASA's Mars exploration program as his reason for leaving the agency. As early as the Spring, NASA had indicated to the European Space Agency that it might not be able to meet its commitment to the joint Exo-Mars missions, in 2016 or 2018.

2012

Feb. 13—NASA releases its FY13 budget request, which, at $17.7 billion, is a slight decline from FY12. The planetary science budget was reduced from FY12 by $300 million, with more than $200 million from the Mars program—a 40% cut ($581.7 million in FY12). Instead, the Administration proposed to double NASA's support to private for commercial crew transport to $850 million, as compared to the less than $406 million Congress appropriated in FY12.

Feb. 27—NASA Associate Administrator for Science, former astronaut John Grunsfeld, announced at the meeting of the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group, made up of Mars scientists, the NASA establishment of the Mars Program Planning Group, to "reformulate" the Mars program, geared toward small, relatively inexpensive future missions. The Mars scientists angrily observed at the meeting that you can't solve big questions with small missions.

March 7—At hearings by both House and Senate authorizing committees on the FY13 NASA budget request express their disagreement with the White House policy. Not only the Mars exploration budget, but the manned capsule, Orion, and the heavy lift laucher are slated for $362 million in cuts. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison says Congress is never going to increase funding for commercial crew, at the expense of the manned exploration program.

April 5—hearings in the House and Senate by both authorizing and appropriating committees, where OMB witnesses tried to deny they had set a limit for spending on space science missions, flagrantly contradicting statements by NASA officials that they've been told the opposite by OMB.

April 7—Russian Space Agency and European Space Agency annouce they have agreed to cooperate on the 2016 and 2018 orbiter and landers ExoMars missions, wherein Russia will provide capabilities NASA was to have contributed.

April 25—the House Committee on Appropriations bill for FY13 increases NASA's budget for future Mars missions to $150 million, or $88 million above the request; Discovery and New Froniter programs (which could include a Mars mission) is given $480 million, which is $115.4 million above the request; planetary science research is increased by $3.5 million.

May 7—Obama threatens to veto the proposed FY13 appropriations bill, in part due to its reduction to NASA's commercial crew program, which provides $500 million for commercial crew, from the $830 million the White House requested.

May 10—Regardless of the veto threat, the full House approved its version of NASA's FY13 budget.

July 9—National Research Council meeting with former NASA Administrators on NASA's future. Former NASA Administrator James Beggs said that "there is too much program for the budget." The solution is simple he said: increase NASA's budget by $4-5 billion per year, which would give it enough money to carry out all of its programs.