Obama May Cancel Space Shuttle Replacement
WASHINGTON — U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's NASA transition team is asking U.S. space agency officials to quantify how much money could be saved by canceling the Ares 1 rocket and scaling back the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle next year.
Obama pledged during his campaign to inject an additional $2 billion into NASA aimed in part at narrowing the gap between the space shuttle's retirement and the introduction of a successor system.
While NASA Administrator Mike Griffin and his senior managers are adamant that Ares and Orion are the right vehicles to fill that role, Obama did not endorse either system by name during his campaign.
If that omission was enough to raise doubts about the incoming administration's commitment to a rocket some believe will prove much tougher to field than NASA is ready to admit, the five-page list of questions Obama's NASA transition team sent to the agency Nov. 24 probably will not make Ares supporters feel any better.
The questionnaire, "NASA Presidential Transition Team Requests for Information," asks agency officials to provide the latest information on Ares 1, Orion and the planned Ares 5 heavy-lift cargo launcher, and to calculate the near-term close-out costs and longer-term savings associated with canceling those programs.