Mitt Romney announced Saturday that he wants to make America the leader in space, by “Rebuilding NASA, restoring U.S. leadership, and creating new opportunities for space commerce,” according to a campaign press release.
The release continued, “Romney will bring together all the stakeholders — from NASA, from the Air Force, from our leading universities, and from commercial enterprises — to set goals, identify missions, and define a pathway forward that is guided, coherent, and worthy of our great nation.”
The Romney-Ryan campaign insisted, “A strong and successful NASA does not require more funding, it needs clearer priorities. Romney will ensure that NASA has practical and sustainable missions.”
The space announcement was timed to coincide with Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan's town hall-style meeting at the University of Central Florida on Saturday. Immediately after the rally, Ryan sat down with Local 6 Weekend Anchor Erik von Ancken.
Von Ancken asked, “Orion, the capsule, is being built at Kennedy Space Center as we speak, you have Space X that launches from KSC, are these practical and sustainable missions? Will they be part of your plan going forward?”
“That's why we want to have a stakeholders meeting. We want to engage with NASA, commercial technology, the private sector, and our national security to come up with a space program mission,” said Ryan.
The Romney-Ryan plan calls for “stakeholders from NASA, from the Air Force, from our leading universities, and from commercial enterprises — to set goals, identify missions, and define a pathway forward that is guided, coherent, and worthy of our great nation.”
"It sounds like that could mean the SLS, and servicing the ISS could be on the chopping block?” asked von Ancken.
“No I'm not suggesting any of that. I think we need to have a reassessment, to put together a mission-critical space program; that's not what we have right now. So in office we need to come up with a viable space program,” said Ryan.
“And possibly cut those programs?” asked von Ancken.
“I don't know the answer to that,” said Ryan.
Former shuttle worker Jerry Mulberry, who spent 30 years at Kennedy Space Center, said he is glad that Republicans are talking about space and making it a priority, but is concerned what changes could come.
"It seems like it is a fight every 4 years, that the space program is not in the forefront or funded," said Mulberry, who now owns Space Shirts down the road from the Kennedy Space Center. "We seem to have lost our focus; this might be a good thing to do... maybe it is a good idea to get everyone together and say ok, we have a viable NASA infrastructure, and we have done a lot of incredible things, so what is the next big thing NASA could do."