In the wake of its decision last year to cancel NASA’s Constellation Program, the planned successor to the Space Shuttle Program which would have taken American astronauts back to the Moon and Mars, the Obama administration has decided to engage the Chinese government as a partner on civil space flight. In congressional testimony on May 4th, White House Science advisor John Holdren indicated a near term process to partner with China on future spaceflights including potential Moon and Mars missions as reported in space.com.
The decision to cancel the Constellation Project has left America dependent upon renting space on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get to the International Space Station (which was funded more than 2/3 by the US) pending private space craft development which has been dramatically underfunded by the Obama Administration. Now he proposes to cooperate with the Chinese government on human exploration. For 50 years America has been the clear leader in human spaceflight, however with the policies of the Obama administration we are forfeiting that lead at warp speed. Not only has this been a source of national pride, it has been a driver of considerable economic and technological development. It seems American leadership on all fronts is contrary to Obama Administration policy. One can only hope that the Congress can stop the outsourcing and dismantling of our space program until the American people issue President Obama’s pink slip effective January 20, 2013.