The project was started soon after September 11, 2001. On that date when the world trade center's towers had both been struck by commercial airliners, and reports were coming in that another had struck the Pentagon. The President of the United States was reading out loud to some school children when the news came in. He excused himself and first flew to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, and later to Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. After it was determined that the nation's capital was safe, the President flew back to Washington D.C.
The President decided he needed, no that the government needed to have a long term alternative to Air Force One. A way to guarantee the continuity of the American government, even if required the key officials to leave the planet itself. The project was code named Star Eagle, and given some of the highest priorities in the newly formed Department of Homeland Security. It was determined that the quickest way to accomplish this, was to create a version of the new generation space shuttle for the President's use.
By April 30, 2002, Nasa ends its first phase and releases a report defining a second generation reusable space transportation system. In laymen's terms, a second generation space shuttle. In that report, it outlined fifteen different concepts were being hotly studied. One of the major changes being the goal of a 1 in 10,000 probability of losing a crew. Currently that ration is somewhere between 1 in 250 and 1 in 500.
On January 14, 2004, President Bush unveils a new vision for the space exploration program. The first part being the completion of the International Space station by 2010 and the second goal is the completion of the newly designed spacecraft by 2008. Among the other milestones to be reached are the first manned mission in the newly designed spacecraft by 2014, and to return to the moon by 2020. The concept being that a permanent facility be built there for launching platform for missions to explore planets in our galaxy and beyond.
In none of the speeches does President Bush even allude to the concept of one of these newly designed spacecraft being used as a replacement for Air Force One. It is purely my own conjecture. But stop and think about it. With the current environment of fear and paranoia, doesn't it make sense that the president and top staff would use the technology to keep themselves safe in the event of catastrophic damage to the Earth either by man's misconduct or natural disasters. It seems to be more of a situation of it being harder to believe that the wouldn't take advantage of the chance to escape.
If this were true, can you imagine the competition among astronauts to become the first crew of Nasa One?