1. George W. Bush proposed the Vision for Space Exploration program, which became Constellation, in 2004 as part of his re-election campaign, but he did nothing to build support for the program.
2. Under Bush, no new money was provided to NASA to begin the Constellation program; money had to be taken from NASA science, robotic missions, and human spaceflight programs.
3. To find seed money for Constellation, Bush canceled the space shuttle program and planned to abandon the International Space Station less than five years after completion.
4. Bush’s (not Obama’s) plan from years ago to cancel the shuttle program created the six-year gap for American human access to space, leaving America’s space program to rely on Russia for all human launches.
5. Bush planned to terminate the space station shortly after completion, wasting tens of billions of taxpayers’ dollars and years of planning and assembly.
6. Constellation was an “unfunded mandate.” Under Bush, NASA’s fraction of the federal government’s discretionary funding decreased from .7 percent to .4 percent.
7. Bush budget plans for Constellation called for initial small budgets followed by gigantic budget increases -- balloon payments -- at the same time next president would take office.
8. The Augustine panel (popular name for the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee) determined that NASA would need an additional $3 billion every year for the foreseeable future to build the Constellation program, but a 17 percent yearly increase in NASA’s budget would still not keep the space station alive or bridge the gap between the shuttle and Constellation programs.
9. Bush’s administration created economic conditions ($1 trillion Iraq war and the 2008 economic crash) that ensured that the Constellation program was already on life support as President Obama took office.
10. Obama’s budget takes into account the Augustine panel’s recommendations and calls for a significant increase for NASA of about $1 billion per year to .6 percent of the federal budget. The proposal would extend the life of the space station to at least 2020 and enable a more technology-focused approach for humans to explore Mars without detouring through old technology to old destinations.
For a more detailed account of the NASA proposals, please see the February issue of the Democratic Reporter, posted on a link at the top of the home page at www.bayareanewdemocrats.org.