Bolden in Houston to discuss future of NASA

HOUSTON In a speech closed to media and the public, Bolden spoke openly to Johnson Space Center employees about critical need: A necessity to work together to make President Obama's vision for the future of space exploration a reality.

"Reasonable people can agree to disagree," Bolden said in his speech, of which a copy was obtained by ABC13. "However, my friends, now is the time that we must pull together."

There's been much criticism of the plan since the president announced his intent to scrap the return to the moon and the space center's Constellation program. Obama laid out a plan that would target Mars, giving $6 billion to NASA over the next five years. It would develop new rockets to get deeper into space faster and cheaper.

"If we flounder and lose out on this opportunity, it is unlikely that our nation will have a similar opportunity in our lifetime," Bolden said.

But not everyone seemed to agree.

"He's trying to get everybody on board, everybody singing the same tune, rowing the boat in the same direction," said Bob Mitchell with the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership.

Mitchell listened to Bolden's speech and says it's clear that Bolden is trying to gain support among the rank and file.

"He's not there," Mitchell said. "He knows he's not there. He's gonna have a very difficult time getting there."

Experts agree 4,000 to 7,000 contractor jobs are on the line near Johnson Space Center.

"We're all very concerned out here in Clear Lake," said Cathi Syzdek.

Syzdek's husband works at the space center. She says he and many others wonder how long they'll be employed here.

"I think it's gonna be a real travesty that we cut back so much, that we give up the lead that we've built for years and decades, and so many people have built into it," she said. "And then we just give it up? I don't buy that."
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