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Citing Chandrayaan, Obama calls for fresh US space plans

US Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama

NEW YORK (BNS): Taking note of India's successful launch of the first unmanned mission to Moon, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama on Wednesday called for revitalizing American space programmes “to remain the undisputed leader in space.”

All major opinion polls give Obama credible lead over his Republican rival John McCain in the US presidential polls. During the early campaign phase, Obama had detailed his space plans for the future, and all these initiatives by Obama comes at a time when NASA is facing serious financial shortage, and an imminent retirement of its ageing space shuttles.

“With India's launch of its first unmanned lunar spacecraft following closely on the heels of China's first spacewalk, we are reminded just how urgently the United States must revitalise its space program if we are to remain the undisputed leader in space, science, and technology," Senator Obama said. He said the US should train new scientists and engineers for the next generation so as not to "let other countries surpass" American technical capabilities.

"We must not only retain our space workforce so that we don't let other countries surpass our technical capabilities; we must train new scientists and engineers for the next generation," Obama said in a statement posted on SpaceRef.Com. He said his plan to revitalize the space programme and close the gap between the Space Shuttle's retirement and its next-generation replacement includes USD 2 billion more for NASA “but more money alone is not enough," the Illinois democrat added.

"My comprehensive space policy focuses on reaching new frontiers through human space exploration, tapping the ingenuity of our commercial space entrepreneurs, fostering a broad research agenda to break new ground on the world's leading scientific discoveries, and engaging students through educational programs that excite them about space and science," Obama said.

The Democrat Party leader said as a child he had been inspired by the splashdown of Apollo. "As a child, I remember sitting on my grandfather's shoulders and watching the Apollo astronauts return from a splashdown to Hickam Air Force Base, dreaming of where they had been," Obama noted. "It inspired my imagination and gave me confidence in what we as Americans could achieve. It's time for a space programme that inspires our children again," he underlined.

"As President, I will lead our space programme boldly into the 21st Century - so when my daughters, and all our children, look up to the skies, they see Americans leading the way into the deepest reaches of our solar system," the Democratic nominee said.

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