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Obama to unveil more ambitious, sustainable space programme

WASHINGTON (PTI): Justifying the decision to scrap its "manned mission to moon", the White House has said the Obama Administration is coming out with a more ambitious and sustainable space programme, including more astronaut time in space and more rockets launching.

US President Barack Obama is scheduled to outline his new strategy for the country's space programme and a renewed mission for NASA in Florida.

"The President will outline a renewed strategy tomorrow in Florida that will provide more jobs for the area, greater investment in innovation, more astronaut time in space, more rockets launching sooner, and a more ambitious and sustainable space programme for America's future," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters here.

"That's why, there have been many who believe that what the President will outline represents our best opportunity and our best effort to get this agency and programme back on pace to put astronauts and rockets into space, as the President so strongly desires," he argued.

Gibbs said an independent commission has looked at NASA, its budget, and its programmes, and found that the programmes were years behind schedule, massively over budget, and that they weren't going to meet the timeframe of going to the moon under any circumstance.

"In fact, the commission itself found that the idea of going to the moon under the timetable prescribed was un-executable," he said.

Refuting criticism, Gibbs said the plan that the President will outline actually would result in more jobs for the area than would have been had the plans simply been carried out.

"So I think that the President will outline this in more specificity and detail tomorrow, but this is a sustainable investment in our continued returning to space," he said.

"What the President has done is put in place something that is sustainable, that will return astronauts and rockets to space, increase our investment in cutting-edge research and innovation, and provide us the best opportunities," Gibbs said.

The White House spokesman said there are obvious and cutting-edge research and innovation investments that a whole host of people in this administration and out believe are tremendously important.

"That's why the President's renewed programme protects that and, again, provides something that is sustainable. The programme that had been in place, was simply not going to happen," Gibbs said.

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