Curious Comments From Former ESAS Leader

Editor's note: Doug Stanley, the leader of the ESAS last year has been making some interesting posts at nasaspaceflight.com. A friend referred one posting in particular to me. It would seem that Dr. Stanley has some issues with things that were posted on NASA Watch regarding the ESAS.

Curiously, throughout the ESAS process - and in the full year following its release - not once did I ever get a request from Doug Stanley to address issues on NASA Watch - with attribution - even though he was quite aware that he (like any other reader) could do so. Instead, he chose another website on which to do so. Of course, that is his right. In so doing, however, Doug Stanley wants to have it both ways. In particular, I found this excerpt to be most illuminating:

"I used to read NASA Watch a lot and actually believe what was said. After my ESAS experience that is no longer the case. Almost every thing posted at the time about ESAS had significant errors! He was publishing old pre-ESAS work and claiming it as ESAS work. He never actually got a single ESAS document until well after the study was over. It was strange to have all this inside knowledge and see it misrepresented. I now find myself in the same position on Ares 1. I have access to all of the SBU data, and keep up with the Ares 1 design reviews and status. Many things "sources" feed to NASA Watch and the forums here and on space.com have some errors and are usually taken out of context."

What Stanley seems to have forgotten is that I posted the complete draft ESAS report and then, nearly a month later, the final ESAS report - still a nearly month before NASA managed to get around to releasing it publicly.

Also, since Doug Stanley was in charge of the ESAS, let me criticize him here for the sloppy way that he controlled the release of that initial draft version. While it was not supposed to be seen or possessed by non-NASA civil servants (there was a clear notice to that effect attached), the draft was readily circulated by contractors and non-ESAS participants for many weeks. How did they get a hold of it? Clearly people who worked for you were not listening to you Doug. Given your position, that equates to poor management on your part. Small wonder things got released unofficially.

As to the other things that I posted, Doug Stanley is seemingly unaware of - or seeking to gloss over - the fact that his ESAS efforts were also done in parallel with other "architecture" related projects at NASA. All of these parallel efforts were blessed by NASA management, and all performed by civil servants and contractors drawing salaries. I can imagine how Stanley would be upset that NASA was doing the same thing in multiple places, and stealing his thunder in so doing, but all I can say in response is "welcome to NASA, Doug'.

Indeed, many times, decisions one would expect that a ESAS leader would be making were made over his head:

"I am told that the folks at the White House also wanted 4 crew for political reasons (one more than Apollo). Hence, there was a convergence between politics and science. When Mike came in, he agreed and blessed the number. We were not allowed to change it ..."

"You were "told" this about the White House? Do you know this for a fact or are you just speculating in public? Tsk tsk Doug. That's called a "rumor". How unprofessional of you. Moreover you claim to "have access to all of the SBU data, and keep up with the Ares 1 design reviews and status". Has NASA cleared you to talk about this topic in a public forum (as you have been doing)?

Stanley also has a profound case of sour grapes in that NASA did not go with an overall architecture of his liking. It shows up in many of his post-ESAS comments, but his differences are rather clear in this post:

"Now I am going to let you in on a little secret! Shhhh...don't tell anyone, OK? If I were in charge of National Space Policy, I would not even go to the Moon! I am actually a Mars First/Direct person. I would like to get to Mars as soon as possible and think that the Moon will be a distraction from that. If we establish an outpost on the Moon, NASA's entire exploration budget expected to be available will go to the operation of that outpost and the exploration of the Moon."

I find it rather interesting that Mike Griffin's own exploration architecture guru doesn't even believe in Griffin's - or the White House's - VSE - but rather a different policy all together.

Clearly, Doug Stanley has the right to speak or not speak in the venue of his choosing - with or without attribution - if that is what he needs in order to feel comfortable in presenting his thoughts. And I can certainly understand how people would feel nervous about posting on NASA Watch.

Yet Stanley decided to chide one website (NASA Watch) for not posting what he wanted to see (or posting other NASA studies outside of his control) and then passed on multiple chances to comment - even after he left his NASA position. Yet he went on to make those critical comments on another website with attribution - meanwhile chattering away behind the scenes all these months to many people outside the agency about things one would expect he should not be talking about.

Doug Stanley clearly wants to use the Internet to crow about things the way he wants people to see them (and puff up his role at the same time) yet he is critical of the same medium when people use it to relate their own experiences and information - and saying things he does not like (thus diminishing his status) in the process.

This is just plain hypocritical. You can't have it both ways, Doug.

Editor's update: Once again, Doug Stanley passes on a chance to have his comments on NASA Watch - with attribution - but posts them elsewhere. So I will help him out. Oh yes, his recollection of email interactions is flawed - and incomplete - including the timeframe involved in these interactions.

"Well folks ... one last post. Feel free to write to NASAWatch and tell them what you think of this lovely piece of journalism:

I guess anyone can see who can't handle criticism

For the record, the week after I left NASA I did have a detailed E-Mail exchange with Keith over all the errors he made in ESAS coverage, and he did not get a single document during the study (only a draft of the Final Report 2 months after I left NASA), the stuff he posted WAS from pre-ESAS work and he claimed it was ESAS, and I don't post to NASAwatch precisely because of the wonderful journalistic treatment you get with a monologue/diatribe like he posted here (sort of like calling up and to argue with Rush Limbaugh while he has his hand on the mute button)...They have a saying down in Huntsville ... "Never get into a fight with a pig, because you both get all muddy ... and the pig .. he just enjoys it!"

By all means, please send your feedback to nasawatch@reston.com - you too Doug - spill your guts about everything incorrect I have ever written or posted!

Of special interest (to me) is your fundamental disagreement with the very premise upon which the architecture you were employed to develop was based - and why you agreed to manage something you simply did not believe in. Shouldn't Mike Griffin at least have had the common courtesy of having someone develop an architecture for him that they believed in - as much as he does? How does this help NASA when you don't share that enthusiasm, Doug?

Again, your hypocrisy is startling.

For the record, while I have been critical of some aspects of how Mike Griffin has been implementing the VSE, I am not at all in disagreement about the VSE itself. Quite the contrary - and my support includes a series of visits to the Moon (where we have unfinished business and lessons yet to be learned) as part of a preface to establishing an inner solar system infrastructure as a prelude for moving outward - to Mars - and beyond. I just feel that Mike Griffin needs to have people who accept the entire plan - not a subset thereof - as is the case with Doug Stanley.

Editor's update: This entire discussion has now been taken offline.

Your comments thus far:


The comments of Doug Stanley on www.nasaspaceflight.com that are copied on your site explains a lot of things that have worried lunar advocates. The ESAS report is very cursory and incomplete in the lunar outpost scenario. The ground rules and assumptions that are used, along with the outpost buildup scenario, indicate a lack of an integrated systems engineering approach. The problem with this is that the succeeding lunar architecture teams have been using the ESAS Design Reference Mission and Ground Rules and Assumptions as the basis for their work. This is leading to a significant amount of confusion and lack of clear direction for these teams to implement a workable lunar outpost that will achieve the lofty goals of the original Vision for Space Exploration. The upcoming AIAA conference in Houston will have to take these comments of Stanley and put them into their proper place relative to lunar operations. To many in the space community the Moon is our most important first step in developing the scientific and economic potential of the solar system. Many of us on the inside see that there is little direction to the current lunar architecture team efforts and hope that administrator Griffin and Scott Horowitz will address these issues.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on November 27, 2006 11:41 AM.

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