Thursday, February 04, 2010

So where is our Space Program headed?

Earlier this week, President Obama stated NASA’s proposed budget for the fiscal year. Starting Oct. 1 the budget seeks to cancel the current Constellation program intended to send astronauts into orbit and to the Moon. The other major change in Obama's space policy calls for $6 billion to be spent to help private companies develop rockets and crew capsules to carry astronauts to the ISS.

NASA's work on the Constellation Program, including the Ares 1 and Ares V and Orion, will continue this year while Congress examines the proposed changes. We’re all looking very forward to the thorough evaluation that will be performed by Congress of the budgetary framework President Obama has proposed to ensure NASA can sustain a robust and balanced space program of human spaceflight, climate, science, robotics and aeronautics.

So what’s new with me? Well since I was hired under the Space Shuttle Program contract, the retirement of the shuttle fleet does effect me. My plan? To find another position that will advance my career. Our option here is to continue with our position until the end of the program (or until layoffs effect us) or….there may be other opportunities that may come to KSC that we could apply for.

There is also uncertainty over the future of the astronaut corps. Space agency officials declined Tuesday to confirm if NASA's astronaut corps would continue after the space shuttle retires within the year. I have been asked by many how this effects me and if I will continue to aspire to become an astronaut. Of course I will still apply to become an astronaut if the opportunity is there! At the moment I am focusing on my current job responsibilities, looking for what direction I want to take my career next, and continue in advancing my education. I’ve been very involved with volunteering my time to encourage math, science, and technology to students through the Society of Women Engineers and through some school visits. I fully intend to continue being very active in the community wherever my next venture takes me!


heroineworshipper said...

The best way to become an astronaut is to borrow $200,000 & buy a flight on Virgin Galactic. The government ceased to be a practical route for aspiring astronauts long before Constellation was canceled.

Having said that, we thought the voters would at least support a 6 person Apollo derived capsule for LEO instead of shutting down the program completely & hoping for private industry to someday produce a 3 person capsule.

As a pure science program, NASA is eventually going to be dissolved. Without a manned spaceflight element, it's function is better served by the National Institute of Standards & Technology.

vdiv said...

Yes, the situation does not look promising. Frankly it is rather hard to accept that the current administration is putting so little value in human space exploration that it is proposing to outright cancel it. But, as an unlikely person to be a mentor or a role model, Conan O'Brien asked us on his last show not to be cynical, and said if we are kind and work really had, amazing things will happen. What an inspiration!

I know of someone who has a really cool blog and who lives up to that :)

Tracy Walters said...

I remember that day in 2003 when I was woken up and told about Columbia. Not only did I feel bad for the people involved, but I got a headache thinking that this would push us back even further in space exploration. Then to hear the announcements a short while later that NASA was being directed to establish a base on the Moon and then go on to Mars, I was happy. I'd been waiting since I was a kid to hear those announcements! I felt as if out of a great tragedy came focus for mankind to finally start branching out beyond low Earth orbit.

Now I don't know what to think. I mean, I guess it's good to get private companies involved, to try to open up space more for everyone. But are they going to be able to do that anytime soon? I saw an article on about one of the private companies saying it's possible they could offer Moon tourism by 2020. How they could do that when it was said that NASA wouldn't even be able to do that by then is beyond me. Then again, I just barely scanned through the article cause I was already depressed anyway.

And I saw somewhere that Administrator Bolden said something about looking into technology that could get people to Mars in days instead of months. Well, if THAT comes out of all this, that would be great, but...I don't know. I'm 36, and I just hope they can do something like that in my lifetime. I was hoping to see people on the Moon or Mars in my lifetime. Hopefully I'll live a long time. lol

Sorry to ramble, but it feels like I've been teased for the last few years with cool things to look forward to, and now I don't know what to think. But you hang in there! Whatever happens, I'm sure you'll still be an astronaut some day. And when I win the lottery, I'm gonna buy a seat and ride up there with you!!

Unknown said...

I was hired to work on the STSOC contract in Houston in February, 1986. I've supported the Shuttle and Payload software ever since. I will be laid off when they retire the Shuttle. Everyone I work with doesn't see how this is a step in the right direction, but we agree that it is too early to say what will really happen. We believe in manned spaceflight because we see what it has done for this country and the world.

I've read every one of your blog posts and you are a wonderful example of the best of the best that works for NASA. I'm sure you will find a job that uses your talents the same way. Boeing is a good company to work for and they obviously see your worth. They take care of employees like you. You have a great future ahead, regardless of whether you become an astronaut or not.

I've never seen a launch, so I plan to come to KSC, probably for the July STS-134 launch. I will pay for the trip with my own money. I don't think United Space Alliance will pay for the trip. :)

Anonymous said...


Almost 10 years after 9/11 when the Twin Towers fell, and we still have not rebuilt them. We argue over design and memorials. The people we used to be would have rebuilt them exactly as they were before, plus one floor -- and it would have been done in a year.

Are we the people we used to be?

We need to be.

Now, we postpone our return to the Moon. We cease our exploration of space. We focus our space program's telescopes and satellites on ourselves. We gaze at our navels.

We need to go to Mars. We should already be there.

CLICK BELOW and you will find an excerpt from my book, ANTHONY AND THE MAGIC PICTURE FRAME. I wrote and photographed this book with my family. The excerpt is from Chapter 2: The Men on the Moon. I hope this chapter reminds us who we once were -- and who we can be again.

I hope my book inspires our children to reach for the stars.

If you believe in this message for our children, pass this email along.

Michael S. Class
February 5, 2010



Michael S. Class
Author / Photographer / Publisher


Anthony and the Magic Picture Frame: The History Book with a Message for Today's Young Americans

Read the book. Remember the truth. Share it with your children.

Web Site:

Watch the Video:


The Philadelphia Textbook Mystery:

Anonymous said...

I was quite disappointed by the cancellation of Constellation. Personally, I wish the program would be funded international just like the International Space Station and we could carry on from low-Earth-orbit (LEO) to the moon. Much of space exploration has been a competition. The day we start world-wide cooperation in space is the day we will truly progress forward. Unfortunately though, it will probably never happen.

I think this is what we need though for commercial industries. NASA has too much food on its plate. Education is a major priority and we need to teach these companies how to work in LEO. I mean, is this not what spaceflight is about: to learn, explore, and discover? It seems a great deal of concern is how reliable rockets being constructed by these companies will be. Sure, accidents may and will happen, but recall the early days of NASA. How many times did it take to finally get a vehicle that did not even explode let alone get off the ground? When the Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia accidents occurred, we didn’t give up and say “OK, let’s do something else…” Instead, we learned from our mistakes, we learned how to improve our abilities and prevent future mishaps from taking place. God bless the crew of each of those missions for if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be where we are now in terms of space flight technology.

While Constellation may no longer be, and like Damaris said, it will still be funded throughout this year, some think it is a waste of time, but ideally, it is not. All the research and development that has gone into the program will certainly be used for future missions into space.

And as for NASA, let the agency continue to do the cool stuff, plot future endeavors to the moon, Mars, and certainly beyond while these private industries take care of everything happening in LEO.

I hate seeing Constellation go, but I am finding hope in the newly proposed budget. I was ecstatic to think that by the time I graduate from college, I would be able to work under the Constellation Program! However, it could rebirth under a new name with new technologies that overcome what Constellation was going to have, so never say never. I agree with Robert, canceling the program seems like a huge step in the wrong direction but I think it is too early to judge on what’s going on. We can only continue to wait and hope for the best possible outcome.

As for you Damaris and the rest of the people involved with this line of work, keep on going! We need more people like Damaris, Robert, the people who follow along, and everyone else who shares in this passion for space exploration. It is up to us to keep moving forward. Never give up because as Gene Kranz once said, “To stop in space is to surrender.”


The Gnome said...

I have followed the journey to the moon since Gagarin went up into space. 1969 is inscribed in my memory.
Visiting Kennedy Space Center as a British tourist was an emotional experience.
And then the internet brought me into touch with your blog, Damaris, which I have been following for 5 years.
What the President is doing is modernising the opportunity for space travel, rather than nationalising it and there is no doubt in my mind that you will achieve your goal, if not in total, in part. Thanks for your efforts and your enthusiasm in keeping us in touch with everything that you do to keep your own dream and everyone elses dream of space travel alive.

Buzz Ryan said...

Dreams put into action become reality. Be that becoming an astronaut or the dream of exploration.

I feel it is in our nature to push past the boundries, and not one entity holds the keys to the future. Someday, somehow we will be living amidst the stars, and the future generations will not know of the struggle to get there.

You will be an astronaut.