Msnbc: Pres. Obama Space Summit

Obama to host April space conference

WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama will host a space conference next month in Florida to chart his vision for the future of human spaceflight, the White House said Sunday.

The April 15 event comes after Obama last month proposed dropping the massively over-budget Constellation program launched by his predecessor, George W. Bush, to develop a rocket aimed at returning Americans to the moon by 2020.

The White House said it wanted to ground Constellation because it was too costly, used outdated technology and would not be ready to ferry humans to the moon before 2028.

In its place, Obama suggested in his 2011 budget blueprint that NASA concentrate more on research and development that would reap benefits over a longer timeframe.

The president still called for spending six billion dollars over five years for NASA to develop commercial spacecraft that could carry astronauts into low Earth orbit.

That was a far smaller increase than the three billion a year a presidentially-appointed panel had said would be necessary for a viable human flight program.

Obama also asked NASA to partner with the private sector, using funds from an economic stimulus package to develop the primary services transporting astronauts to the International Space Station.

"The president's ambitious new strategy pushes the frontiers of innovation to set NASA on a more dynamic, flexible, and sustainable trajectory that can propel us on a new journey of innovation and discovery," the White House said in a statement Sunday.

"After years of underinvestment in new technology and unrealistic budgeting, the president's plan will unveil an ambitious plan for NASA that sets the agency on a reinvigorated path of space exploration," the statement said.

"The conference will focus on the goals and strategies in this new vision, the next steps, and the new technologies, new jobs, and new industries it will create."

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