To judge from his remarks at the Kennedy Space Center last week, President Obama has embarked on a generational reorientation of the nation's space program.
He is charting a potentially exciting new course to explore the ultimate frontier, but skeptics — count us among them — are unlikely to be reassured until the president's lofty rhetoric is transformed into concrete policy with explicit budgets and firm deadlines.
It was heartening to hear Mr. Obama offer reassurances that he is not trying to end the nation's human spaceflight program. The nation needs a strong corps of active astronauts to compete with Russia, China and other countries for manned exploration of other worlds and to attract America's best young people to a program that can maintain America's leadership in the realm of space.
Still, there are plenty of reasons to remain skeptical about this plan.
Mr. Obama sought to justify the controversial decision to scrap the existing Constellation program by saying it relied on outdated technology and had fallen hopelessly behind schedule in the race to return to the Moon. But $10 billion has already been spent on the program and, under the president's schedule, NASA's next manned flight won't lift off for more than 10 years -- sometime in the 2020s.
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