Obama's Sputnik/space race analogy is perhaps a touch ironic. During the 2008 campaign, when Obama was asked how he'd fund his education platform, he suggested he'd cut or "defer" funding to some NASA programs. Space-flight advocates saw the two in conflict during the '08 campaign.

He's also suggested funding increases for NASA, but he's called for scrapping NASA's "Back to the Moon" program as well. "The president's proposed NASA budget begins the death march for the future of U.S. human space flight," said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) around this time last year.

Interesting to see Obama mention NASA now during a speech that heavily involved education, when funding priorities are pretty tough to balance.