Recently in Ask The Administrator Category

Keith's note: Today is NASA's 56th birthday. This video contains NASA's first Administrator T. Keith Glennan delivering a message to employees of NACA about "N - A - S - A ". Is it just me or does this guy sound like Heywood Floyd during his moon base speech in "2001 A Space Odyssey"? Just sayin'.

"Charles Bolden talked about his experiences as an astronaut and his current duties as NASA administrator. He discussed some of the more than 100 missions he flew over North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia during his career as a Marine pilot flying the A-6 Intruder. He recounted the improbability of an African American being accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy in a time of racial segregation in his home state of South Carolina. He spoke about his final mission into space and the unlikely friendships that he developed with the two Russian astronauts who flew with him. Other topics included the NASA budget, the space shuttle program, and the international space station."

From: Anonymous at Marshall Space Flight Center Question(s): An alternative launch vehicle was proposed that has many advantages to Ares I/V. The direct STS derived vehicle offers more mass to orbit at $2B less per year, minimizes changes to the STS launch infrastructure while maintaining existing workforce, provides greater flexibility for lunar architecture options including global access anytime return, enables large science missions, and allows upgrades for Mars exploration. The vehicle is described in a Sept 2007 AIAA paper "Achieving the Vision for Space Exploration on Time and Within Budget", 2007-6231 (www.directlauncher.com). Is NASA considering a seldom encounter option of "better, faster, cheaper" as a slight change to the Ares I/V approach that opened the doors to exploration beyond low earth orbit? If not, why not?

Response: No, we are not examining this concept further at this time, because we have looked at this and similar designs on numerous prior occasions. We conducted a very thorough study of architectural alternatives to meeting our needs for ISS resupply and return to the Moon during the Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS), over two years ago. At some point, the studying has to stop and the work has to commence. We are well past that point. The suggested approach has numerous shortcomings with regard to meeting our architectural requirements.

This column is not the place to cover all the pros and cons of that approach. If you are interested, I would suggest contacting Steve Cook, of MSFC, directly. As a courtesy, you should copy Constellation Program Manager Jeff Hanley and ESMD AA Rick Gilbrech.

Editor's note: There is an energetic little group of Internet denizens who love to wave their arms around and posit the notion that they - and they alone - have a solution to all of NASA's problems with the Ares I and V rockets. Technical merits (or lack thereof) aside, anyone who knows Mike Griffin and how he has been running NASA will tell you in a heartbeat that he will simply not deter from his current path so long as he is Administrator. As such all of these Powerpoint concepts are just that - concepts.

However, should Griffin leave or be replaced, the general consenus is that the entire VSE/ESAS universe would be revisited - from stem to stern - with an EELV-based architecture the strong favorite to replace it. If the powers that be reject Ares - they will reject any Shuttle-derived architecture.

Yawn. Next topic.

The Internet is a great way to share ideas. So far it is not the best way to (re)design NASA's rockets. That does not mean that it will not be capable of hosting such a "crowdsourcing" activity in the near future.

-- Just not this week.

From: Konstantin Penanen (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
Date: 17-Aug-2007

Question(s): Mike, During your recent all-hands meeting at JPL a number of employees raised their concerns about the implementation of HSPD-12 and the resulting intrusive investigations. While you expressed your own basic comfort with the directive, you emphasized that the process is government-wide and your hands were tied.

Editor's note: The following selection is repeated - verbatim - from an ongoing "Ask the Administrator" dialog with Mike Griffin, located on InsideNASA, and can be viewed by anyone at NASA:

From: Anonymous (Goddard Space Flight Center) Question(s): After making the hard and much needed decision to stop moving the Lunar Precursor and Robotics Program office from Center to Center and bring it to HQ to more efficiently manage NASA's programs and projects under severely constrained budget conditions, how do you handle politicians trying to reverse such a decision? With the very aggressive schedule and limited resources of the LRO Project (and presumably the LCROSS Project), acclimating to a new Center program office structure every year or so is terribly unproductive and a strain on already limited project resources, especially when some Centers do not necessarily have the expertise in program management needed to manage such projects, resulting in even more strain on limited resources. One would think that those politicians who confirmed you as Administrator to make the hard decisions and trusted you to do so in the best interest of the Agency and the taxpayers would let you do your job.

Editor's note: The following selection is repeated - verbatim - from an ongoing "Ask the Administrator" dialog with Mike Griffin, located on InsideNASA, and can be viewed by anyone at NASA:

Anonymous (Langley Research Center): Along with many of my colleagues, I was quite surprised when you canceled the OneNASA initiative along with the statement (to the effect) that its objectives had been satisfied. Reviewing any of the original mission statements for OneNASA, there would appear to be a pretty clear 'disconnect' between the two statements. Admiring the extremely clear and logical thinking (and articulation) you've demonstrated in every speaking forum, I'm wondering if you might expand a bit more on your rationale for this cancellation. Similar to some questions already posted in this forum, I know there was a sincere hope among many of my colleagues at several centers, that we might strive toward eliminating the 'ten stove pipes' in terms of attitudes and practices.

Editor's note: The following selection is repeated - verbatim - from an ongoing "Ask the Administrator" dialog with Mike Griffin, located on InsideNASA, and can be viewed by anyone at NASA:

From: Raymond Sanders (Johnson Space Center) Date: 07-May-2007 Question(s): If I, as a NASA employee in good standing get involved in some emotional, non lethal altercation and arrested by law enforcements agents in Florida, will NASA quickly dispatch my supervisor in a Government T-38 or equivalent, to represent NASA and assess the matter?

Response: No.

NASA Deputy Administrator's Blog Jun 25, 2007

"I was in Colorado and Arizona on June 17-20. I will write more about my meetings there in my next entry. I have been traveling quite a bit in the past few months and there is no sense that it will slow down any time soon. I think these trips are necessary, talking to people outside the beltway to see what their thoughts are about NASA and exploration. But the main purpose has been to focus on fiscal year (FY) 2008 appropriations for NASA."

NASA Deputy Administrator's Blog Jun 15, 2007 - Shana Dale

"I am looking for a more direct way to communicate with people inside the agency. There is so much that goes on at headquarters and I want to be able to pull the curtain back on at least some of it and also explain what is going on with new initiatives. I anticipate updating the blog every week - I know, not as routine as many but it's hard even to find time to eat lunch."

Today's Ask the Administrator Answer, previous post

[Mike Griffin] "Finally, no, I do not read NASAWatch, or any other blog."

Editor's note: Gee Mike, you won't even read your own Deputy's blog?

Editor's note: The following selection is repeated - verbatim - from an ongoing "Ask the Administrator" dialog with Mike Griffin, located on InsideNASA, and can be viewed by anyone at NASA:

Question(s): To preface this question, I have already read your answers that make it clear that the "Vision" carriers a higher priority than sustaining our research edge. What I do not understand is: (1) How can the Vision be implemented within the resource constraints we face? From the data and trends I'm seeing, there is an Achilles' mismatch between budgets & costs and schedules & progress. (2) How is the "Vision" more beneficial to the Nation than NASA's other responsibility to sustain preeminence in the sciences and technologies of aerospace? Thanks for inviting such questions. From: Marc G. Millis (Glenn Research Center)

Editor's note: The following selection is repeated - verbatim - from an ongoing "Ask the Administrator" dialog with Mike Griffin, located on InsideNASA, and can be viewed by anyone at NASA:

From: Anonymous (Goddard Space Flight Center): Regarding the letter about experiences on Constellation outreach and public relations on NASAWATCH.com on May 30, 2007, I would recommend that HQ PAO needs to coordinate with all Center PAO offices and educate the public about NASA. Have you develop the plan to communicate directly to public? They are the taxpayers. We need to tell them that NASA has benefits for everyone. Also, do you read posts on NASAWATCH.com? I find it very interesting than what PAO has on NASA website.

Editor's note: The following selection is repeated - verbatim - from an ongoing "Ask the Administrator" dialog with Mike Griffin, located on InsideNASA, and can be viewed by anyone at NASA:

Question(s): As you are no doubt aware, a recent Washington Post article entitled, 'Cutbacks Impede Climate Studies', describes Earth Science research funding cuts that impact Earth Science research. It is my understanding that many people on our home planet believe that Global Warming/Climate Change is the number 1 challenge to our survival as a species. If that is the case, then perhaps Congress should give the Agency an emergency supplement that will enable NASA to perform this important climatic change research at or beyond the current level of vigor.

Editor's note: The following selection is repeated - verbatim - from an ongoing "Ask the Administrator" dialog with Mike Griffin, located on InsideNASA, and can be viewed by anyone at NASA:

Question(s): What are the agency plans to respond to the NRC Decadal Survey "Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond"? Is there a general opinion of this report and the impacts to NASA at this early stage? From:Steve Ambrose,Headquarters

Editor's note: The following selection is repeated - verbatim - from an ongoing "Ask the Administrator" dialog with Mike Griffin, located on InsideNASA, and can be viewed by anyone at NASA:

Question(s): OCFO has initiated (probably in response to agency financial audits) a series of internal controls designed to provide oversight on routine financial functions. I realize that OMB requires agencies to ensure that effective internal controls are in place and functional; it just seems to me that no one is concerned about the cost of some of the controls implemented.

Editor's note: The following selection is repeated - verbatim - from an ongoing "Ask the Administrator" dialog with Mike Griffin, located on InsideNASA, and can be viewed by anyone at NASA:

Question(s): Why does NASA allow such a sloppy dress code?? I have actually been asked that question by visitors as well as people in the community. To me it is downright embarrassing. Our contractors do a much better job! From:Anonymous,Johnson Space Center

Response (on 31-Jan-2007): It would be embarrassing to me to prescribe standards as to how others should dress.

Comments? Send them to nasawatch@reston.com. Your Comments thus far:

Editor's note: The following selection is repeated - verbatim - from an ongoing "Ask the Administrator" dialog with Mike Griffin, located on InsideNASA, and can be viewed by anyone at NASA:

Question(s): I am very proud of working for NASA and I thank you and your senior managers for setting a positive tone and improving morale since 2005. For us to succeed, I believe the Agency needs to put more emphasis on long term, basic research and maintain our history of conducting innovative research. Unfortunately, over the last several years funding for basic research has been drastically cut for one reason or another. As a result, a lot of good quality research and ideas generated at GRC are not being patented, which is a great disservice to the tax payers and the Nation.

Editor's note: The following selection is repeated - verbatim - from an ongoing "Ask the Administrator" dialog with Mike Griffin, located on InsideNASA, and can be viewed by anyone at NASA:

Question(s): Why don't I know my counterparts in other centers, or at least have a link to a brief summary of their areas of expertise and their contact info? Why don't I know who else has bought, say latch valves or thrusters? Why don't I know what software they use at Glenn or JPL to do their dynamic interaction analysis? Why can't I read the design documents for other propulsion systems designed by or for NASA if I wanted to? I think we need a internal NASA wide website for trading analyses, contact points, analyses tools, vendor experiences, test results etc... I envision a "myspace" of NASA.

Editor's note: The following selection is repeated - verbatim - from an ongoing "Ask the Administrator" dialog with Mike Griffin, located on InsideNASA, and can be viewed by anyone at NASA:

Question(s): I would like to know why there are three GS-15's in my area with no supervisory status that have offices with doors. One is a Team Lead who went from a normal window size cube into an closed in office. The other two were removed from supervisory positions an made into "quasi" team leads but maintained their office style (moved and rebuilt) to allow room for the AA. Even though these individuals are staff personnel now and not management, they are still treated by some as management and I think this is because of the office surroundings. Is there a reason that they are not in individual cubes? From:Anonymous,Headquarters

Response (on 06-Apr-2007): I have no idea, and suggest you check within the framework of your Center line management structure. I would further suggest that, if you have time to worry about other peoples seating arrangements and office accoutrements, you need to seek out some additional work.

Editor's note: The following selection is repeated - verbatim - from an ongoing "Ask the Administrator" dialog with Mike Griffin, located on InsideNASA, and can be viewed by anyone at NASA:

Question(s): I like your "Ask the Administrator" forum. We used to have "Ask the Director" at Glenn until 2006. Unfortunately, it has been shut down. The employees were assured that their identities were protected and there would be no repercussions for asking tough questions. Can you please give us the same assurances? From:Anonymous,Glenn Research Center

Response (on 26-Feb-2007): There will be no repercussions associated with asking "tough questions" at NASA, nor for expressing any opinion you wish to express, so long as it is done in a polite and respectful manner.

Editor's note: The following selection is repeated - verbatim - from an ongoing "Ask the Administrator" dialog with Mike Griffin, located on InsideNASA, and can be viewed by anyone at NASA:

Question(s): If we are suppose to be oneNASA, including our contractors, why do contractors have to go through a special badging process every time they go to another NASA Center other than their home Center? They folks are key to our survival, yet we issue them visitor badges?! After all, they are wearing badges clearly marked with NASA and their home Center. That should be good enough. From:Robin Land,Langley Research Center

Editor's note: The following selection is repeated - verbatim - from an ongoing "Ask the Administrator" dialog with Mike Griffin, located on InsideNASA, and can be viewed by anyone at NASA:

Question(s): I don't understand why congress want give NASA the full budget, so NASA can continue progessing towards the next generation of Space Exploration ... my question is let commcials and sponsors to get involved with our support to meet our budget cost. They pay millions on NFL GAMES T.V. commercials ... and NASCAR RACES...ETC. What's wrong with NASA RACING To Other Plantes. We have contractor doing the work, let's contract some sponsors to pay us to help advertise. Just a thought... Thanks From:Don Hanselman,Johnson Space Center


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