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Bishop says Obama has broken NASA promises

WASHINGTON — It may be a little unusual for Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, to urge the world to watch an online video of President Barack Obama.

But Bishop says it shows Obama is now breaking old campaign promises to beef up NASA and its Constellation program.

Instead, Obama is trying to cancel Constellation, which Bishop says will cut 20,000 jobs nationally, and 2,000 in Utah. Bishop says it could shutter ATK's Promontory operations for rocket manufacturing and testing.

In August 2008, Obama as a presidential candidate held a rally with NASA workers and criticized the Bush administration for inadequate support of NASA, and promised to actually speed up development of the space shuttle's successor, which at the time was the Constellation program. It also aimed to return to the moon and reach for Mars.

Bishop said, "He played to the audience, but when it came time as president to make the right decision, Obama let the American people down."

So Bishop is spreading quotes from Obama's NASA rally in news releases and offering an online link to a video of parts of the NASA rally on YouTube.

Obama said at that rally, for example, "We cannot cede our leadership in space. That's why I'm going to close the gap, ensure that our space program doesn't suffer when the space shuttle goes out of service."

Obama added, "We're going to continue to support NASA funding by speeding the development of the shuttle's successor," which was the Constellation program.

And he said, "Today, we have an administration that sets ambitious goals for NASA, without giving NASA the support it needs to reach them. As a result, NASA's had to cut back on research, trim their program, which means that after the Space Shuttle shuts down in 2010, we're going to have to rely on Russian spacecrafts to keep us in orbit."

Obama proposed in his 2011 budget, however, to cancel the Constellation program and set NASA on a path toward using the private sector to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station instead of using its own spacecraft.

Bishop said that not only guts the U.S. space program, it also hurts national defense by likely putting out of business the scientists and companies needed to supply missiles and develop new ones because they heavily depended on NASA contracts to make a profit.

Bishop said, "Gutting our own space program would be a gift to Russia and China, the chance for them to assume the helm as the world leaders in space exploration. I don't think this is the kind of tragic legacy for which this administration, or any other, will want to be known."

This story was reported from Salt Lake City.