Keep in mind that Neil deGrasse Tyson made these comments before the revised plan was announced today.
Today he tweeted this after President Obama's speach. Sounds like he is generally supportive of it.
Obama seems to get the message. New NASA plan is generally sensible & even doable. Mars, asteroids, tech development, etc.
I totally dig Tyson. He is a not only a brilliant man but someone that is able to communicate science in a way that doesn't bore people. He also does so without sounding like Bill Nye, who IMO dumbs things down a little.
I'm pretty much in support of the new plan because the old plan wasn't being implemented as originally envisioned. It was also VERY questionable as to whether or not it would actually get us back to the moon, let alone getting beyond LEO..
My only real problem with it is that the development of an HLLV is pretty open ended. The original plan was the even more open ended because there was no funding for it at all. At least this time there appears to be funding (assuming Congress goes along with it).
The other thing I would have liked to see is the extension of the Space Shuttle Program for another year or two or three. Just one or two flights a day. But President Obama correctly pointed out that the plans to cancel STS were made SIX years ago. President Bush followed the suggestions of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) and decided to retire those birds at the end of 2010. There are good arguments to be made for extending but the arguments for ending the program are just as good if not better.
So this is how it looks:
After this year, we lose our ability to fly to ISS from American soil. EVERYONE is hitchhiking on Soyuz.
SpaceX starts flying the Falcon9 rocket and Dragon capsule as early as next month. But that is an unmanned cargo version. They designed it with the intent to upgrade it to a manned version in the future but they have to build an escape rocket and add all sorts of stuff to the rocket to get it "manned rated". NASA will be the regulatory body that issues the rules on what a "manned rated" space craft and rocket is. SpaceX says that manned flights COULD be accomplished by 2012 but 2015 is more likely at current funding levels. On the positive side, that gives them five years of flight experience to work out the kinks..
The Orion capsule (originally part of the canceled Constellation program) will not be canceled. It will become a rescue ship as I mentioned before. That gives us a fall back plan if SpaceX fails and give Lockheed something to work with if they decide to start providing manned spaceflight services (and they very well might)...
All that said, things are gonna be very quiet at Cape Canaveral after just three more shuttle flights.