During the April 14 broadcast, Fox & Friends falsely claimed that President Obama is "slashing" NASA's budget; that Buzz Aldrin is "blasting Obama" about his proposals for NASA; and that the administration's plans could mean astronauts "won't even exist down the road."
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Fox & Friends: "Obama under fire for slashing NASA budget"
Carlson: "Are we even going to have a NASA program anymore?" During the April 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson stated: "President Obama will have a huge speech about this tomorrow down in Florida. Many people sitting on pins and needles. What's he going to say? Are we going to have a mission that's going to go to Mars?" Carlson then highlighted Neil Armstrong's assertion that "without the skill and experience that actual spacecraft operation provides, the USA is far too likely to be on a long downhill slide to mediocrity." During the segment, Fox & Friends aired on-screen text claiming: "Obama under fire for slashing NASA budget":
In fact, Obama proposed $6 billion increase in NASA budget over five years
Obama proposal: "Adds $6 billion to NASA's budget over five years." In February, the Obama administration released its fiscal year 2011 budget proposal, which "adds $6 billion to NASA's budget over five years." NASA administrator Charlie Bolden characterized the funding increase as "an extraordinary show of support in these tough budgetary times."
Carlson falsely suggested Obama's proposal means astronauts "won't even exist down the road"
From the April 14 edition of Fox & Friends:
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): So now we have to pay the Russians to get us up to the space station. Now we're going to scrap an entire program and just make one rocket that will bring us into deep space at the cost of just $40 million over five years and commit to going back to the Mars and moon perhaps on the cheap. I mean, the president's going to outline in detail the story, but in the meantime you get the sense that they're going to be retraining some of our -- those who are working in the space program to do other things. So my sense is they're scaling back the program. Major.
CARLSON: Yeah. It's an amazing thing, because kids grow up saying, hey, I want to be an astronaut someday. Maybe that profession won't even exist down the road.
In fact, Obama's plan does not abandon, but refocuses U.S. human spaceflight
Obama's plan promotes manned spaceflight through private companies. Obama's plan "[d]irects NASA to partner with the aerospace industry in a fundamentally new way, making commercially provided services the primary mode of astronaut transportation to the International Space Station." The Obama administration stated that "[p]artnering with industry in this new way potentially accelerates the availability of U.S. access to low-Earth orbit and reduces the risk of relying solely on foreign crew transports for years to come." According to the administration, this policy will "help reduce the cost of human access to space." After conducting an independent review of the U.S. human spaceflight program, a blue-ribbon panel concluded in 2009 that establishing "commercial opportunities could increase launch volume and potentially lower costs to NASA and all other launch-services customers."
Obama proposes development of "heavy lift" rocket to reach deep space. The Obama administration's budget proposal cancels the Constellation program, which was slated to replace the retiring space shuttle and was intended to send astronauts to the moon. The budget proposal stated that the Constellation program "was over budget, behind schedule, and lacking in innovation due to a failure to invest in critical new technologies." Instead, the Obama administration proposes, among other things, "[r]esearch and development to support future heavy-lift rocket systems that will increase the capability of future exploration architectures with significantly lower operations costs than current systems -- potentially taking us farther and faster into space." MSNBC.com reported that "[t]he rocket would be ready to launch several years earlier than under the old moon plan" and would be designed for "future missions to a nearby asteroid, the moon, Martian moons or other points in space. Those stops would be stepping stones on an eventual mission to Mars." Under Obama's plan, a design will reportedly be selected by 2015.
Logsdon: Obama proposal is long-term strategy for space exploration. The Washington Post reported in February that space analyst John Logsdon "said that, far from killing human spaceflight, the Obama budget gives NASA more than a billion dollars a year in extra funding and makes an investment in the long-term strategy of exploration. That would include robotic missions to the moon."
Plait: "Simply not true" that "Obama is killing our Moon plans and gutting NASA." Astronomer Phil Plait wrote in February that "people are complaining that Obama is killing our Moon plans and gutting NASA. That's simply not true. I think this may very well save NASA and our future manned exploration capabilities, if this is all done correctly." Plait also stated of the proposal to partner with private companies: "Once the Shuttle retires later this year, private companies will be putting humans in space before NASA will have the capability to do so again," adding that "with routine launches to space covered by private companies, NASA can concentrate on what it should: innovation, pushing the limits, paving the road. Once the road is laid, let others use it. So I don't see this as doom and gloom. I see this as 1) putting science and innovation first, and 2) freeing NASA up to do what it does best: explore the boundaries."
Fox & Friends falsely claimed Buzz Aldrin is "fuming" about Obama's plan
Teasing a segment on criticism of Obama's space program proposals, Fox & Friends guest co-host Eric Bolling stated: "NASA legends blasting Obama, saying cutting back the space program is bad for America. Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong -- fuming." Clips of Aldrin were included in the video Fox & Friends aired as Bolling spoke.
In fact, Aldrin backs Obama's plan
Aldrin "endorse[d] strongly the President's new direction for NASA." On February 1, Aldrin endorsed Obama's space program plans and stated that "[a] near-term focus on lowering the cost of access to space and on developing key, cutting-edge technologies to take us further, faster, is just what our Nation needs to maintain its position as the leader in space exploration for the rest of this century":
Today I wish to endorse strongly the President's new direction for NASA. As an Apollo astronaut, I know the importance of always pushing new frontiers as we explore space. The truth is, that we have already been to the Moon - some 40 years ago. A near-term focus on lowering the cost of access to space and on developing key, cutting-edge technologies to take us further, faster, is just what our Nation needs to maintain its position as the leader in space exploration for the rest of this century. We need to be in this for the long haul, and this program will allow us to again be pushing the boundaries to achieve new and challenging things beyond Earth. I hope NASA will embrace this new direction as much as I do, and help us all continue to use space exploration to drive prosperity and innovation right here on Earth.
I also believe the steps we will be taking following the President's direction will best position NASA and other space agencies to send humans to Mars and other exciting destinations as quickly as possible. To do that, we will need to support many types of game-changing technologies NASA and its partners will be developing. Mars is the next frontier for humankind, and NASA will be leading the way there if we aggressively support the President's plans.