White House Press Secretary on Final Shuttle Launch

July 11, 2011 at 11:35 am | Posted in Space Law | Leave a comment

by P.J. Blount with the blog faculty

Source – The White House:

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
July 08, 2011
Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 7/8/2011
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

11:39 A.M. EDT . . .

. . . Q With this Atlantis shuttle launch about an hour ago, basically the manned space program at NASA is over when this lands. Does the President have any kind of sentimental regrets that this era of space travel is over? What about the arguments of some of the astronauts who were interviewed this morning saying they wish that at least the shuttle had kept going until a new launch vehicle was available? Is it just about money?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think the President honors the shuttle program and the service of everybody who has worked on it over the years. And as you know, he had hoped to see this previous launch, but it was scrubbed while we were down there.

The fact is, the President has laid out an ambitious agenda, an ambitious vision for human space life that will take American astronauts beyond where we’ve been ever before, with the ultimate goal being a human mission to Mars.

Q When?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think if we knew that, there wouldn’t be the challenge, would it? I mean, the fact is, is that we need to dedicate our resources to answering that question. And the President’s vision, negotiated with bipartisan support from Congress, allows NASA to focus its resources on exploration and innovation, while leveraging private sector resources to continue taking Americans to the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit, whose mission has been extended until at least 2020 — that’s the space station.

This new strategy means more jobs for the country, more American astronauts in space over the next decade, and more investments in innovation relative to the prior administration’s plan.

So contrary to the suggestion that — simply by ending the space shuttle program does not — I mean, our vision for human space flight is quite expansive.

Q Even though it will be a decade or so before there are any new launches by the United States?

MR. CARNEY: Well, it’s hard for me, so far from being either an astronaut or a scientist, to estimate a guess for how long that would take. But it’s precisely because, as they did in the ‘50s and ‘60s, they had big visions and didn’t know how they were — they had a vision of where they wanted to go but had not idea how to get there yet. We need to have —

Q But JFK did pretty well setting a date.

MR. CARNEY: Well, the fact of the matter is, he didn’t know how he was going to get there and whether it was possible, I mean, if you read the histories. And the point is, is that with the resources we have, we should be focusing on trying to achieve that goal, and that’s what the President believes.

Q No tinge of sentimentality by the President?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I haven’t talked to him. I know he, again, has enormous regard for and respect for the program and the participants, and would have liked to have seen it; he was down there with his family in the previous launch. And we obviously wish the current mission all the success. . . .

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