After hearing Obama's speech at Cape Canaveral yesterday and reviewing the highlights of the proposals, I'm cautiously optimistic. The Constellation project was never anything more than a bullet-point on a Powerpoint presentation for Bush - it was woefully underfunded, way behind in its progress, and ultimately a dead end.
It looks like Obama plans to vault past the whole Ares system for heavy lifting and is going directly to the next generation vehicle, in preparation for some serious manned space exploration. Going back to the Moon remains a sidelight possibility with this arrangement, if it's something we feel like doing, but the main thrust is going to be toward a Mars-capable program.
It's always somewhat unnerving when a program is going to take so long to start producing results - there's going to be a lot more fingers in the pie and who knows what the world will be like by 2025. I feel like it's going in the right direction, though, so any fiddling with it will be more in the mode of fine tuning than a reversal of direction. My hope is that NASA is sufficiently invigorated that they get ahead of schedule and we start seeing results sooner than later, making it difficult to shut the thing down capriciously.
This feels a lot like the transition between Apollo and the Shuttle programs. I never like the Shuttle particularly, though, so I'm more comfortable with this one because I have a better opinion of the destination.
To Infinity, And Beyond!