Obama Establishes Florida Space Industry Task Force

WASHINGTON ? U.S. President Barack Obama appointed membersof a new task force charged with determining how to spend $40 million thepresident pledged for work force training and economic development near NASA?sKennedy Space Center, Fla., when the agency retires its space shuttle fleetthis year.

Led by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and NASA AdministratorCharles Bolden, thetask force will ?construct an economic development action play by August15, 2010,? according to a May 3 memo released by the White House.

Obama promised $40 million for work force training andeconomic development during a speech at Kennedy April 15. The following week,Bolden told a Senate panel that the president?s plan to spur economicdevelopment along Florida?s space coast would be funded from $2.5 billion NASAis requesting to cover the cost of canceling the Constellationprogram, a 5-year-old effort to replace the space shuttle with new rocketsand spacecraft optimized for lunar missions.

In February, Obama sent a $19 billion NASAbudget proposal to Congress that called for canceling all of Constellation,including the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle. But during his April 15 visit toKennedy Space Center, the president redirected NASA to produce a scaled-downversion of the Orion capsule for use as a crew escape pod on the internationalspace station. Obama also highlighted the $6 billion increase he is seeking forNASA over the next five years, some $2 billion of which he has pledged formodernizing Kennedy and other nearby launch facilities.

?While all of the new aspects of my Administration?s plantogether will create thousands of new jobs in Florida, past decisions to endthe Space Shuttle program will still affect families and communities alongFlorida?s ?Space Coast?,? Obamawrote in the memo.

The task force, which will remain in effect until May 4,2013, will be composed of senior leaders from several cabinet-level agencies,including the Departments of Defense, Education, Housing and Urban Development,Labor and Transportation, as well as participants from senior advisory bodieswithin the administration, according to the memo.

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SpaceNews Staff Writer

Amy Klamper is a space reporter and former staff writer for the space industry news publication SpaceNews. From 2004 to 2010, Amy covered U.S. space policy, NASA and space industry professionals for SpaceNews. Her stories included profiles on major players in the space industry, space policy work in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as national policy set by the White House.