Romney's Turn to Lay Out Space Goals; Scott Pace Heading Romney's Space Policy Team-UPDATE
UPDATE: Florida Today says it will cover Romney's visit to Astrotech live, and is already running video apparently from that location.
Mitt Romney's website still has him scheduled to appear at the Astrotech facility in Cape Canaveral, FL this afternoon at 4:45 pm ET where he is expected to expand on his plans for the space program if he is elected. Meanwhile, a letter posted on Romney's website reveals that Scott Pace is heading his space policy advisory team.
Last night at the CNN Florida Republican presidential primary debate in Jacksonville, all four Republican presidential candidates, including Romney, were given an opportunity to expound about the space program. Romney's current chief opponent in the race, Newt Gingrich, presented his bold plan for space -- including a lunar base by 2020 -- at a speech on Wednesday. Last night, a member of audience asked what the candidates' plans were for "manned space flight and the future of NASA" and moderator Wolf Blitzer expanded the question to bring in views about Gingrich's lunar base proposal.
Romney called it "an enormous expense." Saying he believes "in a very vibrant and strong space program" and wants to bring together experts to advise him about it, he cautioned that he is "not looking for a colony on the moon. I think the cost of that would be in the hundreds of billions if not trillions. I'd rather be rebuilding housing here in the U.S."
This afternoon's event is listed on his website as scheduled for 4:45-6:00 pm at Astrotech's facility at 620 Magellan Road, Cape Canaveral. Edward Ellegood of Florida Space Report tweeted that he expects Romney to introduce some of the experts he plans to consult.
The Romney campaign may have tipped its hand already, posting a letter of support from some well known players in the space policy arena. The authors of the letter assert that Romney will "restore America's space program." The letter was signed by Scott Pace, Director of George Washington University's Space Policy Institute and who served as a NASA Associate Administrator under former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin. Griffin also signed the letter. Pace is identified as "chair of the Romney Space Policy Advisory Group" and interestingly does not mention his NASA service, but notes his earlier tenure at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Others who signed are Mark Albrecht, former Executive Director of the White House National Space Council under the first President Bush; former astronauts Gene Cernan and Bob Crippen; Peter Marquez, formerly on the staff of the White House National Security Council under the second President Bush and in the early years of the Obama Administration (he is credited with pulling together President Obama's National Space Policy); Eric Anderson of Space Adventures; and William Martel from Tufts University.
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