Image copyright BiodietkaMauriceDavidson Image caption The President’s newest rocket test site is three miles east of White Sands Missile Range
President Obama’s hobbyhorse in science exploration may be nearing its finish line.
However he can still be a source of excitement and inspiration, as his passion for space exploration continues through the next US president, whether Democrat or Republican.
At Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, all eyes are on President Joe Biden, who is in Cape Canaveral with his grandson for the final launch of the New Shepard rocket.
“I didn’t know I was having a grandson until he was in his teens,” Mr Biden told journalists.
“And in a sense he is following in my footsteps.”
Image copyright NASA Image caption Mr Biden is a full-time cancer survivor, a period in his life that has affected his space exploration plans
Mr Biden is a full-time cancer survivor, a period in his life that has affected his space exploration plans. He recently likened the New Shepard to a personal supercar that he drives.
As an astronaut, his mission was to work his way up to the moon, and later the Saturn V rocket.
As a presidential candidate he said a trip to Mars was a “red goal, blue goal” that he would achieve.
Image copyright NASA Image caption But Mr Biden, one of America’s most respected former senior political figures, may have achieved his political goal in space exploration
Despite his ambitions and promise, Mr Biden may have ended up achieving his political goal.
“Biden doesn’t need to go to Mars to make a statement,” said Anthony Calvano, a planetary scientist and space policy expert.
“He can deliver an image of a US president made of gold.”
Mr Biden may feel he was at his strongest on his home soil, campaigning against Republican candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, but the 43-year-old New Shepard has given him more opportunity to get to know and influence the results of the latest space exploration push.
Image copyright CBS Image caption Mr Trump and Mr Obama will have a chance to have their say this weekend as both Presidents take part in the national memorial service for astronaut Scott Kelly
“We call the New Shepard ‘Biden space vehicle’ so there will be a whole new mission to fulfill and it’s called the moonshot,” said Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana.
Another trip to the moon would be a boost for President Trump, a new Republican nominee, who often mentions his interest in outer space.
Both Mr Trump and Mr Obama will have a chance to have their say as both presidents take part in the national memorial service for astronaut Scott Kelly, who became the first American man to spend a year in space.
Mr Obama was on the cusp of extending the country’s human space exploration with the next journey to Mars and into the solar system.
His planned successor, Mr Trump, has promised to “return” the country to the moon, saying he believes it will be the first step on the journey to Mars.
Image copyright AFP Image caption His plans include rebuilding NASA into a proper space exploration and medical agency
“His goal [is] just as elusive as mine was,” said NASA official David Mitchell.
“But the progress the country has made to get to this point over the last decade has been tremendous.
“Getting the moonshot is the next logical goal. It will make it a far more exciting journey than we’ve had so far.”
Mr Trump’s plan for NASA also includes rebuilding the space agency into a proper space exploration and medical agency, one that no longer cuts corners on safety and does more to advance technology and safety.
It includes appointing a Deputy Secretary of Space for the first time in 14 years.