Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, held a town hall meeting near the Kennedy Space Center today and vowed strong support for NASA, saying he favors at least one shuttle flight beyond the 10 missions left on the agency's manifest. Obama also said he would work to close the gap between the end of shuttle operations in 2010 and the debut of the Orion spacecraft that will replace it and said earlier reports that he would divert money from NASA's next manned spacecraft to education were unfounded. Obama was introduced to an enthusiastic crowd of about 1,300 at the Brevard Community College by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who flew as a payload specialist aboard the shuttle Columbia in 1986. In his opening remarks, Obama delivered his most detailed statement yet on space policy as NASA implements the Bush administration's drive to complete the space station and retire the shuttle fleet by the end of fiscal 2010. NASA hopes to replace the shuttle with smaller Orion capsules and huge, unmanned cargo boosters, known collectively as the Constellation program. The goal is to use Orion spacecraft to carry astronauts to and from the station while developing the heavy-lift Ares 5 rocket that will help NASA establish a moon base around 2020. Under the Bush administration's plan, the money to pay for the Constellation program primarily will come from funds that now go to the shuttle and space station programs. The Orion spacecraft and its Ares 1 booster are under development, but near-term funding shortfalls will result in a four- to five-year gap between the end of shuttle operations and the advent of routine operations with Orion. During that gap, U.S. astronauts will be forced to hitch rides to the station aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Today, Obama said he supports the Constellation program and will work to narrow the gap between the end of shuttle operations and the advent of Orion. "I know it's still being reported that we were talking about delaying some aspects of the Constellation program to pay for our early education program," he said. "I told my staff we're going to find an entirely different offset because we've got to make sure that the money that's going into NASA for basic research and development continues to go there. That has been a top priority for us. This is an administration that's been anti-science. Whether it's on stem cell research, whether it's on climate change, they have rejected science. I want to reverse that trend, I want us to be a science-based society and I want us to invest in science." Spaceflight Now | Breaking News | Obama vows NASA support during visit to Florida Obama supporters, it's been very difficult for me to find current information on this other than the Obama web page. However. if you look at how he plans to fund early education, one of the lines he mentions is a plan to cut funding for the constellation program by delaying it for 5 years. That would mean that the United States after 2010 till 2020 would have no capability to put their own people into space. In case you have not noticed China yesterday conducted a space walk with their own astronauts and plan on going to the moon in the next 7 years. Also, India just launched a moon program yesterday as well. Am I one of the few that thinks it's still important to have a manned space flight program? The benefits from this are many and proven. So if an Obama supporter can convince me on this one is he currently still planning to keep the program or not?