Obama's Space Conference to Take Place in Kennedy Area

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GREENBELT, Md. — The NASA policy conference U.S. President Barack Obama will convene April 15 in Florida to discuss the course his administration is charting for the U.S. space agency likely will take place at or near Kennedy Space Center, according to NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver.

The White House said March 7 that Obama will visit Florida next month to “host a conference on the administration’s new vision for America’s future in space” but provided no further details about the venue. Speaking at the Goddard Memorial Symposium here March 10, Garver said the space community should be excited about the April 15 event, which the White House said “will focus on the goals and strategies of this new vision, the next steps, and the new technologies, new jobs, and new industries it will create.”

“For a very long time … we’ve been talking about having the president actually lead an effort where I think stakeholders in the community work together and talk about our future in space,” Garver said. Obama is proposing to shut down development of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle and Ares 1 launcher along with the rest of the Moon-bound Constellation program and rely on the commercial sector to transport U.S. astronauts to the international space station. That plan, proposed in Obama’s 2011 budget request to Congress, has encountered bipartisan resistance.

Orion and Ares 1 were to replace NASA’s space shuttle, now slated for retirement at the end of September. Garver said the president’s decision to convene a space conference next month in Florida — a politically important swing state where thousands of space shuttle workers are newly fearful about their future job prospects — shows his commitment to putting NASA on what she described as a relevant and sustainable course.

“You don’t do major shifts without feeling strongly about it, and the president feels strongly enough about it to personally participate in a public way,” Garver said.

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