President Obama arrived at Kennedy Space Center touting his new budget for NASA and explaining why he's not pushing moon exploration.
While former astronauts have criticized the President for his new budget and plans for space exploration, much of which focuses on other moons and Mars, the President made it clear that while he likes the orange drink Tang, he just doesn't think taking Tang and astronauts back to the moon is the future.
"What we're looking for is not just to continue on the same path, we want to leap into the future," Obama told a friendly group gathered at the Kennedy Space Center. "We want major breakthroughs, a transformative agenda for NASA."
Obama said he understands his new strategy will include a revision of the old strategy including the Constellation program, which was designed to send astronauts back to the moon by 2020. According to a panel examining Constellation, the program is over budget and behind schedule, leading the White House to scrap the program and focus on other space exploration.
"The bottom line is, nobody is more committed to manned space flight, to human exploration of space than I am. But we've got to do it in a smart way. And we can't just keep on doing the same old things we've been doing and thinking that somehow that's going to get us to where we want to go," Obama said.
But in a nod to the former astronauts and others who have criticized the President for abandoning Constellation, the President chided those in the audience that the moon is not a new frontier. "We've been there before. Buzz has been there. There's a lot more of space to explore and a lot more to learn when we do," Obama said referencing the second man to walk on the moon and a supporter of the NASA plan by President Obama, Buzz Aldrin.
The President who landed at Kennedy Space Center on the same runway that the shuttle uses when it lands after missions also recognized the end of the shuttle program in his remarks and what his administration is planning to do for those at NASA who will soon be out of work. But he made it clear, the decision to end the shuttle program was not his.
"That was based on a decision that was made six years ago, not six months ago. But that doesn't make it any less painful for families and communities affected as this decision becomes reality. So I'm proposing a 40 million dollar initiative to develop a plan for regional economic growth and job creation."
The Shuttle Discovery is currently on a mission and is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center in four days. The shuttle program is set to end after three more missions.