Jumping The Gun

Report that Obama decided on space policy may be premature , Orlando Sentinel

"A report by a respected science publication that said President Barack Obama has decided on a new space policy for NASA may be premature, according to Write Stuff sources. The report, which was posted Thursday night on the "Science Insider" blog at the web site of the journal Science, quoted unnamed sources saying that in a meeting on Wednesday with NASA chief Charlie Bolden, the president decided to add an extra $1 billion to NASA's budget."

Keith's note: It would seem that Science Magazine jumped the gun a bit. As is the case with the Orlando Sentinel, NASA Watch sources report that the story published in Science is incomplete and, in some cases, is just plain wrong. Specifically it asserts that a final decision has been made as to what NASA will be told to do. That is not the case. But it is likely that NASA will be getting a budget bump of upwards of $1 billion.

After last week's Obama/Bolden meeting, NASA is on the hook from White House to provide additional information between now and January to be factored into the final decision making process. Among other things, these decisions include the fate of Ares 1 and the new path that may be chosen regarding launch vehicle utilization and development. Moreover, sources report that the impetus for this "leak" was someone in or around the White House - someone who is not necessarily all that thrilled with certain options that are on the table. So, in classic Washington style, they leaked someone else's potentially good news - but did so early - and the results were counterproductive.

You can be certain that neither the White House or the 9th Floor at NASA HQ are remotely thrilled that this stuff is leaking out this soon given that some final number and policy crunching needs to be done. Having to bat down stories - accurate and inaccurate - serves only to distract them from that process. Given that there is lingering concern in some quarters about NASA's capabilities, seeing this stuff dribble out - regardless of the source(s) works against the agency as it strives to make its case to President Obama.

That said, having a high profile meeting at the White House just before Christmas and then expecting everyone to stay silent until the FY 2011 budget comes out in February is unrealistic - and somewhat naive in this day and age since no one can keep their mouth shut any more.

As always, stay tuned.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on December 21, 2009 9:42 AM.

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