Former astronaut Mark Kelly is scheduled to speak at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday.
- So far, neither party has not really talked about NASA's future
- Former astronauts are making efforts to get a conversation going
But he's expected to talk about guns, not space.
While an important issue, the topic of space has been neglected so far in this presidential election.
There’s only a few lines in each party's platform this year about NASA and nothing specific about their visions for the future of our space program.
So Space Florida's — an independent special district of the state of Florida — Dale Ketcham is heading to Chicago, hoping to get space into the campaign conversation.
Representing Florida, he's meeting with aerospace leaders from Ohio, Virginia and Colorado.
“Collectively those four states represent most of the electoral college, votes that are up for grabs in the campaign,” said Ketcham. “And we all have key interests in space. So for the first time we’re working collaboratively to maintain communication to take advantage of opportunities.”
So far, there haven't been many opportunities to talk space.
Neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton have said much about their vision for the future of NASA: Will they continue with planned manned launches from Florida's Space Coast next year? And what about the agency's goal to use the Orion spacecraft to send humans to Mars in the decades ahead?
“I think for the most part (my goal is to) just increase the attention and recognition of the importance of space in leading the United States to continued economic prowess, economic competitiveness, national security, inspiring our youth,” said Ketcham.
Former Astronaut Eileen Collins spoke last week at the Republican National Convention, but again no details were provided on goals for space.
“We need American leadership that will make America’s space program first again,” said Collins.
While the space industry employs thousands on the Space Coast, Ketcham isn’t worried that the issue hasn’t come up yet.
“Either campaign is going to recognize that you can’t make America great again without a great space program,” said Ketcham. “I mean that’s a big part of what it is to be an American. And we’re going to drive home it’s a big part of what it is to capture Florida’s voters.”