T Minus 7 Days in Florida
Orion is facing rumours of 9-12 month delays, which would make the gap even longer. Closing the gap could mean increasing NASA's budget so that Orion takes flight sooner. If COTS can be made ready by 2011, as Elon Musk is planning to do, that would help close the gap and encourage private industry too. A system like Musk's Dragon would shuttle crews and cargo to ISS until Orion is ready. NASA is presently selecting other competitors for COTS.
AVIATION WEEK recently described a human mission to an asteroid as an "alternate vision" for the next president. Asked about the article, Michael Griffin replied, "As I have often stated, human missions to NEO's have no stronger advocate than I." All he needs is the authorisation. Though Space is not normally a big issue, in the 2008 election it could make a difference.