Policy: February 2010 Archives

NASA Gets Flak on New Course, Wall Street Journal

"Criticism of Mr. Bolden's actions came from unexpected directions. Various lawmakers typically supportive of NASA requests said they were "floored" or shocked by the budget package. Complaining that the agency provided only "vague assurances that [astronaut] safety will not be undermined" by the new plan, Rep. Pete Olson, a Texas Republican who represents many NASA employees, confronted Mr. Bolden. He said NASA's leader "managed to surprise, frustrate and anger those of us who have been your greatest advocates."

Technology Would Shape New NASA, Aviation Week

"The objections fall into two broad categories--lack of a clear destination in space for the new program, and a "faith-based" belief, in the words of one House member, that a commercial route to orbit for U.S. astronauts is better than the government-managed Ares I and Orion vehicles. Members also are irritated by delays in getting specifics of the broad-brush plan released Feb. 1, and the apparent lack of consultation outside of a small administration circle in the decision to make such a "radical" change away from a space policy Congress has endorsed."

House Appropriators Grill Obama's Science Adviser on NASA Plan, SpaceNews

"Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) accused Holdren of not consulting senior NASA personnel on the decision to terminate the Constellation program. "Your associate administrators and field center heads were not even told of the final details of the plan to cancel Constellation until just a couple of days before its release," he said. Holdren denied the accusation. "They were consulted early in the process and during the process about the options, the characteristics of different possibilities," Holdren said. Tensions mounted near the end of the hearing when Wolf accused three White House staff members seated behind Holdren of wearing smug facial expressions during Culberson's final round of questioning. "I don't care who you work for," he said. "I think you really bring a degree of arrogance here that is just almost offensive."

Aderholt Challenges The President's Science Advisor On Human Space Flight

"This plan abandons any hope of astronauts actually going anywhere, beyond the station, for at least 20 years. I am aware of the OMB statement of NASA's mission of getting ready to go to Mars. But these science projects should be worked on at the same times as launch systems like Constellation which will actually get us somewhere."

NASA's Perfect PAO Storm

Verbal Testimony by Miles O'Brien: Senate Hearing on NASA's FY 2011 Budget

"While I give the Administration plan high marks for its steely-eyed reassessment of priorities - it did a horrible job telling this story. The headlines should have read: "Space is now open for business". Or - "Space travel now for the rest of us" Or "Space Station science gets a big reprieve" or "NASA to work on fixing air traffic delays" or "NASA to focus more on our favorite planet: Earth".

You get the idea. Instead we got a bunch of blue moon stories...

Why? Well for one thing my understanding is this decision was made in the White House office of Science and Technology Policy office - and was very closely held until the weekend before the budget rollout. They were reluctant to tell the kids I guess.

Even so, everyone in the Space Cadet Nation knew Constellation was a dead man walking. But denial is a powerful thing and so NASA was caught flatfooted - with no strategic plan on how to explain the nuance of this story. And let's face it the mainstream media doesn't have a clue either. Reporters who know some things about this beat have been unceremoniously dumped by the big papers and networks right and left - and many of them are now...well...webcasting.

So it is the perfect storm: the agency is not sold on the change...the communications plan is non existent...the reporters are not well informed...and the public is disengaged."

Keith's note: Hmmm .. the person responsible for all of this messaging is NASA PAO AA (and self-proclaimed "White House Liaison for space") Morrie Goodman who said last week: "I need to make sure that the agency's message is heard loud and clear and that our position is well known, well articulated, in the best way possible for people to understand and hopefuly come to the same conclusions that we do about the things that we do and where we are going."

Something is broken, Morrie.

NASA Chief Bolden reorganizes his space agency (includes memo excerpts with other changes), Orlando Sentinel

"As announced previously, the Office of Strategic Communications will be disbanded. ... Office of Public Affairs: This organization will be renamed the Office of Communications and will be led by an Associate Administrator. The Associate Administrator for the Office of Communications will report to the Office of the Administrator and will also serve as NASA Press Secretary (also see "Changes in Center Reporting")..."

Keith's note: Curiously, the description of NASA PAO AA Morrie Goodman's job - as offered by Goodman himself last week during a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council's Education and Public Outreach Committee - is a little bit more expansive. Make that MUCH more expansive. If you listen to this video (starting at around 08:25) Goodman says:

"I have three goals. Number one is I need to make sure that the agency's message is heard loud and clear and that our position is well known, well articulated, in the best way possible for people to understand and hopefuly come to the same conclusions that we do about the things that we do and where we are going. The other job that I have is to be - I am the White House liaison for space. Uh, uh, um, In that fashion I have to articulate not only NASA's view but - you know, it is NASA's view - because what the President decides for NASA is what NASA does - basically."

"I am the White House liaison for space"? Hmm. I thought David Noble was the White House Liaison. It even says so here at NASA.gov. Goodman is the guy who is supposed to do all of NASA's messaging "loud and clear", so what he said must be accurate, right?

Embedded video below

Keith's note: The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation's Science and Space Subcommittee will hold a hearing onChallenges and Opportunities in the NASA FY 2011 Budget Proposal today starting at 2:30 pm EST. NASA will be broadcasting and webcasting this hearing on NASA TV - Watch. You can follow things on Twitter here.

Witness Panel 1: Charles Bolden , NASA

Witness Panel 2: Robert "Hoot" Gibson, Astronaut (Ret.); Michael J. Snyder, Aerospace Engineer; Miles O'Brien, Journalist and Host "This Week in Space"; and A. Thomas Young, Lockheed Martin Corporation (Ret.)

NASA will be broadcasting and webcasting on NASA TV - Watch

U.S. no longer a space-faring nation, The Hill

"A uniquely American vision of a bold space program can be supported by Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. It would inspire the public and provide numerous technological and engineering spin-offs, while demonstrating to the world that the U.S. remains an optimistic and courageous leader. Congress should firmly reject President Obama's belly-gazing approach to the future and the next frontier by reaffirming the U.S. commitment to manned spaceflight and colonization, set dates for a manned mission to Mars, and boost NASA's budget with these goals in mind."

Last rocket to be fired in Utah as final space shuttle launch nears, KSL

"I believe that we will develop something better in the future," [Harry Reed, ATK Shuttle Program Manager] said. "But at this point in time I don't believe there's another product that delivers more, that is safer and more reliable than what we have to offer." The fight in Congress over the space program is just getting started."


Locals dismayed by space cuts, Knoxville News

"Former U.S. Sen. Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, an Apollo 17 astronaut and friend of Taylor's who spoke at UT in November 2008, has chaired NASA's Advisory Council. He is much more blunt than Taylor in his criticism of Obama: "The administration finally has announced its formal retreat on American space policy after a year of morale-destroying clouds of uncertainty. The administration does not understand, or want to acknowledge, the essential role space plays in the future of the United States."

Analysis: NASA must take next giant step, Houston Chronicle

"The rationale given by administration officials was viable, said Keith Cowing, a former NASA manager who for years has served as editor of the NASA Watch Web site as well as Spaceref.com. "The costs were spiraling, the rockets weren't working and the cost would have been something NASA never would have been expected to get. I was surprised they went as far as they did. ... There's something to be said for killing it completely, once and for all." What Cowing and others -- meaning just about everyone else -- have a difficult time understanding is where exactly manned exploration under NASA is headed. "Flexible is an interesting word," Cowing said. "It means you adapt, you listen, you learn. But path means there is a direction you are heading. I don't see that yet."

Obama overhauls NASA's agenda in budget request, Washington Post

"The decision to kill Constellation is akin to President Richard M. Nixon's decision to end the Apollo program in the early 1970s and build the space shuttle."

Space group attacks Obama's plans for NASA; calls for lunar return, Orlando Sentinel

"The National Space Society, which was once headed by NASA's current deputy administrator Lori Garver and chief of Staff George Whitesides, said in a press release today that the White House plans to increase spending on science, technology and commercial space companies to ferry astronauts for the international space station was commendable. "However, we believe the President's 2011 budget request would leave the job only partly done," the release said. "NSS calls for the President and Congress to restore funding for human spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit."

Impact of a scale-back goes far beyond Houston, Sen. Corwyn, Houston Chronicle

"But NASA cannot pass the baton of human spaceflight to a runner that is still trying on its shoes. The private sector requires years of further development before it can send a human being to the moon or compete with America's international rivals. NASA was assigned the Constellation mission for the same reason it took on Apollo: It remains the only entity in the country capable of getting it done."

NASA chief: Mars is our mission, Houston Chronicle

"The president's plan is not what our country needs at this time," said Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land. "We have been the world's leader for 50 years, and I can't accept that we're going to fall behind. We are going to fight, fight, fight to ensure that the next person who steps on the moon is an American." Olson said the right thing to do is add $3 billion to NASA's budget annually for the next five years to ensure Constellation is fully funded."

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden looks to work out NASA future, Huntsville times

"I've got tiger teams out there looking to put meat on the bones" to define future NASA work, Bolden told a group of reporters and editors during a meeting at The Times today. "This is not a decision that will be resolved in a day."

Davis defends NASA, Huntsville Times

"Davis, a candidate for governor, joined Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin in the meeting with 20 aerospace executives from companies such as Boeing and Dynetics to discuss strategies to keep the Ares rocket and return trips to the moon in the federal budget."


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