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Sen. Nelson - Obama's KSC trip, speech show President listening and backs robust space program

Press Release From: Sen. Bill Nelson
Posted: Thursday, April 15, 2010

image KENNEDY SPACE CENTER - President Barack Obama today unveiled revised plans for the nation's human spaceflight program during a speech here and announced at least two significant changes sought by, among others, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

One is having NASA proceed with building a new space capsule and another is the development of a so-called heavy-lift rocket.

When the president's plans for NASA first were announced in February, they cancelled the Constellation program that was to replace the retiring space shuttle. Instead, NASA was to focus on new technologies for future flight. But dropping testing and development of a heavy-lift rocket left the future of deep-space exploration too uncertain, Nelson and others said.

Based on information released this week by the White House, Nelson said the president is moving in the right direction. But, "as with most presidential proposals, Congress will not just rubber stamp it," he said. "So we'll take what he's saying to our committee, and then we'll change some things."

The Florida Democrat is chairman of the Senate's Science and Space Subcommittee that oversees NASA.

The president called for making a decision on a heavy lift rocket design in 2015. "I think we can make the decision much sooner," Nelson said. "We're going to keep testing the monster rockets at Kennedy Space Center."

Nelson accompanied Obama to Florida today and introduced NASA administrator Charlie Bolden at the event.

"He [ Bolden ] has been there and done that," Nelson will say of the Marine general who Obama tapped last year to head NASA. "On our flight, I trusted him with my life - and, would do so again."

Nelson was a crew member on the 1986 space shuttle Columbia flight on which Bolden was the pilot.

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