Recently in Transition Category

Cape Canaveral reverberated with the effects of politics this week. One of the Republican candidates for Florida governor stumped around the area as space contractor giant United Space Alliance (USA) laid off another 900 employees.

This however did not dissuade Kennedy Space Center Director from predicting a bright future for the space center.

This week at Cape Canaveral saw the red, white and blue honored by one of the most historic of American traditions. It also saw local leaders both working to improve the economic future of the Space Coast region and acknowledging the benefits of the shuttle era extending into another year.

Cape Canaveral was in the spotlight this week both domestically and internationally. At Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex a grant was unveiled designed to help space workers find work after the end of the shuttle program. An international team visited Kennedy Space Center and expressed their interest in joining the U.S. in future efforts to explore the solar system. To wrap up the week several veteran space flyers were inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame. Oh, and how about SpaceX, Falcon 9 lifts off on maiden voyage.


The Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center (KSC) area was a hive of activity this week. The space shuttle Atlantis roared off the launch pad on its final mission, STS-132. Over at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex it was announced that the final frontier will beam down in the form of a live stage show. It was also revealed this week that come this September, Brevard County in general and KSC in particular will be playing host to robots in disguise!

This past week at Cape Canaveral saw the passing of a space legend, the build up to one of the final shuttle launches and efforts to stem the flow of highly-technical space jobs away from the area.

It also saw private space company SpaceX striving to meet the launch criteria for its Falcon 9 rocket.

Open Government Advocates Grade Federal Agency Openness Plans, OMB Watch

"Overall, most agencies scored at 70 percent of total points or higher. Fewer than half of all agencies received 80 percent or higher. The top three agencies, which scored above 100 percent, were the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It should be noted that no agency achieved 100 percent compliance with the OGD criteria, as can be seen in the agencies' basic scores (scores that did not include any bonus points). Those agencies that scored over 100 percent overcame minor point deductions by earning bonus points."

Open Government Plans Evaluations Available -- Find Wide Variations in Plans, OpenThe Government

"No plan fulfilled all of the requirements of the OGD, but eight agencies created plans that stand out for their overall strength: NASA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and the Department of Labor(DOL). Of the top tier plans, NASA, HUD and EPA stand out for presenting model plans."

Nick Lampson "still in the running for NASA top job", Orlando Sentinel

"It seems the reports about former Democratic congressman Nick Lampson's demise as a contender for the NASA administrator's job have been greatly exaggerated. A person extremely close to Lampson has told the Orlando Sentinel that the Houston Chronicle misinterpreted remarks by the former Houston representative about being ready to "move on" with his life as meaning he was not interested in the NASA job. "Nick Lampson is still in the running despite earlier reports from the Houston Chronicle," the person, who is very familiar with the situation, said."

In Full Interview, John Holdren Eschews New Nukes, Hints at Space Flight Delays, Science Insider

"Speaking this morning with ScienceInsider, Holdren discussed why he thinks the United States doesn't need new nuclear weapons. He warned of likely delays beyond 2015 in replacing the space shuttle and the possibility that China would launch U.S. astronauts during the interim."

Obama looking at cooling air to fight warming, AP

"[Holdren] said the Bush administration's plan to return astronauts to the moon was underfunded so money was taken from science and aeronautics. Those areas, including climate change research, were "decimated," he said. The administration will "rebalance NASA's programs so that we have in space exploration, a suitable mix of manned activities and robotic activities," Holdren said. Doing that "will only get under way in earnest when a new administrator is in place." Holdren, who advises the president on such decisions, said he hopes Obama will pick a new NASA boss soon."

President Obama's science adviser talks about his new job, Nature

"Do we know when that is going to happen? I certainly hope we have a new [NASA] administrator in place in the next month that is a hope, and not a prediction."

Administrator Update

Lost in Space: Months After Obama's Inauguration, NASA Is Still Without a Chief, Fox News

"Not all experts are troubled about the agency's fate in the interim. Former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe, who preceded Griffin, told FOXNews.com that Scolese is an "extraordinarily competent guy" who has a deep knowledge of engineering and of the "pulse and the rhythm of the agency." "He's got it -- he's going to be in fine shape," said O'Keefe. "It's not like the wheels are going to come off the cart."

We think: NASA needs a leader, opinion, Orlando Sentinel

"With the federal government now borrowing trillions of dollars to prop up the economy, it's understandable that Mr. Obama would weigh carefully the value for taxpayers in every federal program. But if big changes are coming in the space program, the price of delaying them, in money and time, could be steep. If the Obama administration intends to switch rocket designs for Constellation, for example, it should cut off work on Ares as soon as possible."

Whither NASA?, Achenblog, Washington Post

"Here's a name to add to the NASA Administrator-to-be Rumor Mill: Rep. Bart Gordon, head of a House science committee that oversees NASA. I asked him the other day if he was going to be administrator, and he said he already has the best job in the world and isn't going to trade it in for another. But I'd still keep his name on the list. He didn't outright deny that he might be the next boss on the ninth floor at NASA headquarters."

Scratch Lampson

Ex-Rep. Lampson not headed to top NASA job, Houston Chronicle

"Former Rep. Nick Lampson said Tuesday he is no longer a contender for the $177,000-a-year NASA administrator post. The Stafford Democrat, who lost his seat in a predominantly Republican district in southeastern Texas last fall, told the Houston Chronicle that White House officials had "not made any kind of offer" after approaching him about the post. "I understand this (selection) is not easy. It is a slow, deliberate process," Lampson said in a telephone interview. "But at the same time, I feel comfortable in moving on with my life. That is what I've done."

Administrator Update

NASA Awaits Word on Where It Is Going Next, Washington Post

"The Obama White House has twice been on the verge of making a formal nomination for a new head of the space agency but has pulled back both times because of grumbling from members of Congress with influence over space policy. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has lobbied openly for the nomination of Marine Gen. Charles Bolden, a former astronaut, but the White House has not seemed eager to oblige the senator. "I am frustrated, because I don't know what the delay is," Nelson said recently."

NASA still has room at top, Huntsville Times

"It's become almost a running joke within" the space community, said Keith Cowing, who runs the NASA watchdog Web site NASAWatch.com and monitors aerospace issues daily on Capitol Hill. "There's been all sorts of names floated and re-floated. It's really anybody's guess almost at this point. "But there have been some front-runner names out there recently that may have gained some traction."

Pelosi Likes Lampson

Pelosi mum on 2010 retirement date for shuttle; gushes for Lampson as NASA chief

"However, Pelosi did have good things to say about former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, the Texas Democrat who once represented the Johnson Space Center area and has been mentioned as a candidate to become the next NASA chief under Obama. "I think he is a great person for it. I really know Nick Lampson. I think he would be fantastic," she said. "He was a champion for NASA."

Nick Lampson talks with KFDM about top NASA job, KFDM

"KFDM News spoke with Lampson by telephone Thursday morning. He told us he hasn't been contacted by the Obama administration nor spoken with anyone in the administration about the NASA post. "They are keeping it real close to the vest," said Lampson. I don't know anything about it. I'd be flattered if I were asked. I'd certainly give it consideration. I'd be honored to serve if I'm asked."

Editor's note: Two names to watch in the coming days: Charles Bolden and Nick Lampson. Lampson reportedly had a meeting with Rahm Emanuel in the past few days, and I saw Bolden in Washington on the Hill last week at a NSBRI event. Stay tuned.

Editor's update: Nick Lampson is Twittering. Quick, everyone follow him and DM him about NASA ... meanwhile. Administration sources suggest that it is unlikely that any movement will occur on the NASA front until well after the President and his staff get back from their trip. So cool your thrusters, folks.

Remarks by The President With The Crew of the Space Shuttle and Space Station (Transcript) 24 March 2009

"THE PRESIDENT: Well, obviously we're really proud about the extraordinary work that our American astronauts are doing. You are representative of the dedication and sense of adventure and discovery that we're so proud of. But one of the things that's wonderful about this is that it is an international space station. And I know that we have our Japanese and Russian counterparts on board, as well. We'd love to say hello to them -- and hope that this is an example of the kind of spirit of cooperation that we can apply not just in space but here on the ground, as well."

Editor's note: President Obama called the shuttle and ISS crews this morning at 9:49 a.m. EDT. The President was joined by Acting NASA Administrator Scolese, members of Congress, and children from local schools.

Video (via Collectspace.com) Below

Who Will Serve as NASA Administrator?, Washington Post

"President Obama will speak with Shuttle Discovery astronauts today as they wrap up a series of spacewalks high above. But they still don't have a boss back here on Earth. "I will soon be appointing a new NASA director," Obama recently told a group of reporters from regional newspapers. "I think it's important for the long term vibrancy of our space program to think through what NASA's core mission is, and what the next great adventures and discoveries are under the NASA banner." Two weeks since that statement however, there's still no NASA chief and two candidates once believed to be finalists have been tapped for other government jobs: Steve Isakowitz was reappointed chief financial officer at the Energy Department and retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration will serve as a special envoy to Sudan."

Next NASA chief remains a subject of speculation and rumors, Orlando Sentinel

"Whatever the case, insiders say that Obama is unlikely toname anybody to the job before next month, despite urging byFlorida legislators that hepick somebody for thepost soon."

Who is Scott Gration? , The New Republic

"But there are also a few reasons for Darfur interventionists to worry. Significantly, Gration originally had his heart set on running NASA. Obama tried to put him there until defense lobbyists scotched the idea. This raises questions about whether this new assignment is an afterthought for both Gration and the administration. If Obama sees the Darfur envoy simply as a patronage job for loyal supporters--like the multilateral affairs job that went to Power--then he may not be that ambitious about Darfur."

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, White House

"President Obama also made the following announcement today: Steve Isakowitz, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Energy - Steve Isakowitz was sworn in June 1, 2007 as Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Energy after being unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate."

Editor's note: Now that Steve Isakowitz has been shot down by Sen. Nelson, and Scott Gration is headed to Africa, a new name has started to circulate inside the Obama Administration as a possible NASA Administrator: Mae Jemison. Dr. Jemison is a former astronaut who flew on STS-47 in 1992. Jemison went to college with Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to President Obama. Jemison has been present at some initial Administration planning activities when Jarrett was in attendance. Stay tuned.

Marking Womens History, an Accomplished Troupe, Washington Post

"First Lady Michelle Obama will celebrate Womens History Month on Thursday by bringing a star-studded group of female actors, singers and others to visit 11 schools in the Washington area. .. Mae C. Jemison, a former astronaut, will also meet with students."

Florida lawmakers urge Obama to name new NASA chief, Orlando Sentinel

"Two Space Coast lawmakers today urged the Obama administration to quickly pick a new NASA chief as the agency "faces numerous time-sensitive challenges and needs decisive leadership," according to a letter signed by U.S. Reps. Suzanne Kosmas and Bill Posey. Most pressing is the fate of NASA's human spaceflight program. The space shuttle is set for a 2010 retirement, but its replacement is not scheduled to fly before 2015 at the earliest -- which likely would leave thousands of Kennedy Space Center workers without jobs."

First lady tells students to aim their goals high, AP

[Photo] "First lady Michelle Obama, left, hugs former NASA Astronaut Mae C. Jemison, right, as she welcomes guests to the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 19, 2009, as she hosted a series of events in celebration of Women's History Month."

Scratch Gration

Source: Obama picks retired Air Force pilot, close friend, Africa expert as Sudan envoy, AP

"A senior administration official says President Barack Obama has chosen retired Air Force Gen. J. Scott Gration to be a special envoy to war-wracked Sudan. Gration is a close personal friend of Obama and has considerable experience on African issues.

The administration official told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Gration is the pick of both Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The announcement was being made Wednesday."

Editor's note: Well, it certainly seems that Sen. Nelson is of the mind that he is going to decide who is - or rather - who is not the next NASA Administrator. It should be no secret by now that Nelson would like to see former astronaut Charles Bolden nominated. Widely regarded as a sterling individual, few people dislike Bolden or question his capabilities.

However, the White House seems to have other ideas as to who they'd like to nominate. Nelson made it quite clear that he did not want Scott Gration to be the nominee due to a lack of space experience. Now, Nelson has made it clear that he does not want to see Steve Isakowitz as the nominee either and has taken active steps to block Isakowitz's name from moving forward.

It would seem that Nelson's prime, personal criteria for picking a NASA administrator is staunch support for human space flight - and keeping the shuttle flying as long as possible (thus reducing job loss in Florida). Alas, there are are other things besides human space flight on NASA's agenda.

This is starting to get silly - and is becoming counterproductive so far as NASA's best interests are concerned. It is time for Sen. Nelson to stop being selfish and allow the remaining members of the Senate to have some say in this matter - and to let the White House actually nominate someone to run NASA - someone who can run the agency for the entire nation, not just Florida.

Bill Nelson and Co. take down Obama's NASA frontrunner , Orlando Sentinel

"Nelson and other NASA boosters did not like Isakowitzs reputation as a tough fiscal manager. Nelson aides blamed Isakowitz for helping kill a repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope -- a decision that was later reversed under former NASA chief Mike Griffin -- and they worry that he would not be a strong supporter of human spaceflight. Manned spaceflight is vital for KSC, which launches the space shuttle and would be in charge of preparing its replacement for missions."

Obama calls NASA an agency 'adrift' and in need of new mission, Orlando Sentinel

"OBAMA: ... I will soon be appointing a new NASA director. I think it's important for the long term vibrancy of our space program to think through what NASA's core mission is and what the next great adventures and discoveries are under the NASA banner. The space shuttle program has yielded some extraordinary scientific discoveries, but I think it's fair to say that there's been a sense of drift to our space program over the last several years. We need to restore that sense of excitement and interest that existed around the space program. Shaping a mission for NASA that is appropriate for the 21st century is going to be one of the biggest tasks of my new NASA director. Once we have that vision, then I think that it's going to be much easier to build support for expanding our space efforts. What I don't what NASA to do is just limp along. And I don't think that's good for the economy in the region either. ..."

"OBAMA: First of all, we have authorized were budgeted for additional shuttle launches that had not been scheduled. So we're extending the life of the shuttle because a) I think it is doing some important work and b) we are very mindful of the economic impact of the space program in the region."

NASA FY 2010 Budget Details

"NASA will fly the Space Shuttle to complete the International Space Station and then retire the Shuttle in 2010; an additional flight may be conducted if it can safely and affordably be flown by the end of 2010."

Editor's note: I am not sure how you can be saying that you will be "extending the life of the shuttle" at the same time that you state in budget documents that you are going to "retire the Shuttle in 2010".

Obama Puts His Own Spin on Mix of Science With Politics, NY Times

"The document orders Mr. Obama's top science adviser to help draft guidelines that will apply to every federal agency. Agencies will be expected to pick science advisers based on expertise, not political ideology, the memorandum said, and will offer whistle-blower protections to employees who expose the misuse or suppression of scientific information."

Editor's note: There is continued Congressional interest in Washington in Steve Isakowitz as a possible NASA Administrator - Sen. Mikulski in particular. A very small "bring back Mike" contingent is also still at work in and around Capitol Hill albeit without much success. And a "draft Len Fisk" effort is also underway. Whether any of these efforts will have any effect remains to be seen. Stay tuned.

Editor's note: Multiple sources report that Mike Griffin is mounting a quiet, but persistent comeback campaign on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. So far, none of the people in the Obama Administration who let him go and/or those who could have kept him in the job seem to be remotely interested in asking him back. Stay tuned.

Steve Isakowitz leads the pack for NASA Administrator job, Orlando Sentinel

"But the frontrunner, at least for now, appears to be Isakowitz. He was sworn in as the Energy Department's CFO on June 1, 2007, after being unanimously confirmed by the Senate. Prior to that he has distinguished career serving at the Office of Management and Budget, the CIA and NASA. At NASA he was Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Comptroller, and Deputy Associate Administrator in charge of major space exploration programs. An engineer, he used to work for Lockheed Martin."

Editor's note: "Appears" is the operative word...

Editor's 30 Jan note: I keep hearing the name Lester Lyles mentioned as a possible choice for NASA Administrator. He was a senior Obama campaign advisor, served on the President's Commission on U.S. Space Policy, has extensive space experience from his days in the USAF, is participating in the ongoing NAS study "Rationale and Goals of the U.S. Civil Space Program", and is also a member of the NASA Advisory Council. Unlike Scott Gration, Lyles has obvious space creds. I have always been impressed by him.

This of course could mean absolutely nothing - just idle chatter on a Friday - and what fun is a Friday without some unsubstantiated rumors and gossip, eh?

Caveat emptor.

Editor's 17 Feb update: Lyles' name is suddenly making the rounds again here in Washington - this time with much more of an air of certainty.

Editor's note: In this video, President Obama speaks about the value of science and technology and our future workforce.

Video below.

Obama down to four names for NASA chief, Orlando Sentinel

"President Obama told Florida lawmakers on Tuesday that he was down to four names in his search for a new NASA chief, although Obama would not reveal the finalists, according to congressional sources. House Democrats from Florida, including U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando, traveled with Obama during his trip to Fort Myers to tout his partys $800 billion economic stimulus plan. During the commute, Florida lawmakers had a chance to quiz the new president on a variety of issues, including NASA."

Earlier speculation

Scott Gration - Current Position: NASAAdministrator (since January 2009), Whorunsgov.com (Washington Post)

"His Air Force and administrative experience will come in handy when Gration takes the helm of NASA as the head administrator."

Editor's 1:44 pm EST note: It would seem that Whorunsgov.com ("A Washington Post Company Publication") is about a month behind the times as far as next NASA administrator trial balloon derby is concerned.

Editor's 6:30 pm EST update: They updated their website. It now says "Current Position: Adviser to President Barack Obama (since 2006)".

Political Tensions Hamper Search for NASA Chief, Wall Street Journal

"Disagreements between the White House and some senior Democratic lawmakers have complicated the choice of the next U.S. civilian space chief -- and led to the emergence of a possible compromise candidate. Retired four-star Air Force Gen. Lester L. Lyles is now viewed as new contender to head the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, according to lawmakers and aerospace industry officials. Gen. Lyles once headed the country's missile-defense program and more recently participated in blue-ribbon commissions studying manned space exploration."

White House Press Briefing With Press Secretary Robert Gibbs 4 February 2009

"Q Robert, the James A. Baker Institute is recommending that the Obama administration defer another lunar shot, and instead focus on energy and climate change. Does the White House have a reaction on that?

MR. GIBBS: I don't have anything particularly from -- I would point you to folks over at NASA. I don't have any particular guidance on that."

On a tough day, Obama escapes for a while, AP

"With little notice, the president and first lady Michelle Obama bolted the gated compound of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in their tank of a limousine on Tuesday. They ended up at a Washington public school, greeted by children who could not care less about the collapse of a Cabinet secretary nomination. ... He was upbeat. He and his wife read the students a book about the inspirational story of astronauts landing on the moon. He took a class photo, accepted hugs from the children, thanked them for pictures they made him, and even delivered them a couple of brown-paper bags full of books."

Second-graders brighten Obama's Daschle-dashed day, Christian Science Monitor

"After pleasantries, the president and Mrs. Obama began to read "The Moon Over Star" by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Jerry Pinkey. The book is about Neil Armstrong's moon landing. A White House handout noted that "for the young protagonist of this lyrical and hopeful picture book, that landing is something that inspires her to make one giant step toward all of the possibilities that life has to offer." ... When the story was over, the president said, "That's a nice book." Then he asked who wanted to be an astronaut. One student said yes. "What else do people want to be?" he asked. The replies included doctor, football player, and sculptor. One boy wanted to be president. "I think you might make it," the president said."

The Moon Over Star

Executive Order: Freedom of Information Act, White House

"All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, inorder to renew their commitment to the principles embodied inFOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government. The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA. The presumption of disclosure also means that agencies should takeaffirmative steps to make information public.They should not wait for specific requests from the public.All agencies should use modern technology to inform citizens about what is known and done by their Government.Disclosure should be timely. ... Ialso direct the Director of the Office ofManagement and Budgetto update guidance to the agencies to increase and improve information dissemination to the public, including through the use of new technologies, and to publish suchguidancein the Federal Register."

Executive Order: Transparency and Open Government, White House

"Government should be transparent. ... Government should be participatory. ... Government should be collaborative. ... I direct the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administrator of General Services, to coordinate the development by appropriate executive departments and agencies, within 120days, of recommendations for an Open Government Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB, that instructs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in this memorandum.The independent agencies should comply with the Open Government Directive."

Editor's note: How will this affect NASA? How SHOULD it affect NASA?

Abbey Lane: They're Back

Maximizing NASA's Potential In Flight and on the Ground: Recommendations for the Next Administration, by George Abbey, Neal Lane, and John Muratore, James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University

"Recommendation 1: Restructure the human space initiative and keep the space shuttle flying until 2015
Recommendation 2: Deliver short-term (within four years) payoffs in energy and the environment, especially in the area of climate change
Recommendation 3: Deliver longer-term payoffs (within four to eight years) for energy and the environment
Recommendation 4: Ensure an ongoing and effective robotic space science program
Recommendation 5: Implement a reinvigorated and effective aeronautical research program, with particular attention to low-carbon fuels and efficiency, to help the future well-being of the nation's aviation industry"

Editor's note: The Obama administration is clearly interested in Earth science and has focused most of NASA's stimulus package funds on climate and Earth science issues. Right now a volcano (Mount Redoubt) is about to erupt in Alaska with the potential to disrupt life in the region. With this renewed focus on Earth science you'd think that NASA SMD would take a little time to gather all the things their various satellites can do with regard to this volcano and put it online - if for no other reason to show that they are paying attention to the White House. Alas, a look at SMD's news page shows nothing. Nor is there anything on SMD's home page or NASA.gov for that matter.

Ed, there was no telescope or planetary spacecraft money in the science portion of that package - just "critical Earth science missions".

Redoubt Activity, Alaska Volcano Observatory

Inlet volcano keeps geologists on alert, AP

"The arrival of a new year reminds us that life is a journey, one that takes us on many unexpected paths. NASA's role is to pioneer journeys into the unknown for the benefit of humanity. Along the way, we sometimes experience tragedy instead of triumph.

Today, we pause to reflect on those moments in exploration when things did not go as expected and we lost brave pioneers. But what sets us apart as Americans is our willingness to get up again and push the frontiers even further with an even stronger commitment and sense of purpose.

On this Day of Remembrance, we remember the sacrifices of those who dared to dream and gave everything for the cause of exploration. We honor them with our ongoing commitment to excellence and an unwavering determination to continue the journey on the path to the future.

President Barack Obama"

Stimulus Money for NPOESS

Stimulus Bill Includes Millions for Satellite Program, Washington Post

"Here's a troubling one from Taxpayer's For Common Sense: Spending on the National Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite System, a program to generate weather and climate data, has doubled over the last 14 years to $12.5 billion -- even though none of the satellites have been launched."

Obama Administration Names Interim NASA Leadership

"Obama Administration has announced several interim leadership changes for NASA, which are effective immediately."

Editor's note: Looks like the effort to nominate Major General Jonathan Scott Gration to be the next Administrator of NASA has faded. Multiple sources report that objections by Sen. Nelson, Sen. Mikulski, and others about Gration's experience with NASA have caused this trial balloon to drift away. The personal connection with President Obama just was not enough, so it would seem. The ball is now back in the Obama team's court. Note: contrary to much speculation, the transition team in place at NASA Headquarters (now moving into more permanent positions at the agency) was not directly involved in the selection or vetting of possible nominees such as Gration. They did have some input but that was early in the process. As such, it would be prudent to look toward the White House for hints as to what will happen next. Stay tuned.

Editor's hint: As different groups pass by President Obama, different people appear for a few minutes at his side and then disappear. Let's see who shows up when NASA closes the parade.

Editor's update: Hey is that Barbara Romig in the suit on the rover? How cool. !!!

More screen grabs of the rover in the parade here. Note that MSNBC does not know what "NASA" stands for. Meanwhile all the major networks cut away from the parade just as the rover appeared except the local news channel here in DC and MSNBC who flashed a few seconds.

Editor's note: CNN just announced that it tasked GeoEye to take a satellite photo of the Mall and will air it as soon as they get it.

Editor's update 5:00 pm EST: CNN has shown the image on air. I cannot find it online.

Editor's update 6:00 pm EST: Here it is (thanks to CollectSpace)

Editor's hint: Here it is at GeoEye. You can also see that Google Earth has added it as well.

Army First, NASA Last

Here's the Order of the Parade Procession: Army First, NASA Last, Washington Post

"The Presidential Inaugural Committee released the order that the parade procession will march down the 1.5-mile path along Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House tomorrow. Over 10,000 people from all 50 states will follow Barack Obama and Joseph Biden along the route. Reps from the U.S. Army and Reserves will lead off, and a contingent from NASA will bring up the rear."

Forty years of astronauts, moon craft in the Presidential Inaugural Parade, Collectspace

"We'll be somewhere near the end," said Ferguson. "We were told not right behind the horses, but close."

JSC Rover to Join Inaugural Parade and Crabwalk, earlier post

On Twitter: NASA Rob Ambrose w/ NASA's Lunar Electric Rover (LER), going live with Presidental Inaugural Parade twitter stream

NASA ARC Internal memo: Mike Griffin Departs NASA

"All- As required, I have previously submitted my resignation as NASA Administrator, effective 1200 EST 20 January 2009. Having heard nothing to the contrary, I conclude that it has been accepted by President Obama. Until such time as the president nominates, and the Senate confirms, a new Administrator, the agency will be in the best possible hands with Chris Scolese as Acting Administrator. I wish all of you the very best. It was an honor to serve NASA, and to do so with you. I have greatly appreciated the many expressions of thanks and good wishes which have been sent. There are many, many others not on this list who should also be thanked. Please feel free to forward to those in your individual organizations. Good luck to all. Mike"

Change.gov has Changed

Editor's note: Change.gov is now pointing to Whitehouse.gov. If you Google for "white house vision space" you get http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/space/index.html "A Renewed Spirit of Discovery" President Bush Announces New Vision for Space Exploration Program ..." yet if you go that link you get a new Obama White House "Page not found" error page. Searching for "NASA", "moon" etc. on whitehouse.gov produces no reference to VSE or anything meaningful about the past decade of NASA or space exploration.

I guess it is time to start all over again.

Reader note: The link is here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/agenda/

Where is space?

Gration Plus 7

NASA chief Michael Griffin praises post-Columbia effort in farewell, LA Times

"Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who serves as chairman of the Senate commerce subcommittee on space, has cautioned Obama against picking an outsider. It has been no secret that Griffin wanted to stay on. In recent weeks, allies organized a lobbying effort aimed at convincing Obama that this would be a bad time to shake up the space agency."

Editor's note: Last week, well-placed sources reported that the Obama Transition Team had begun to circulate a name for vetting for the job of NASA Administrator: Major General Jonathan Scott Gration. Its a week later and this choice seems to have faded to a great degree. Stay tuned.

Memorandum for the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, White House

"Section 1. Order of Succession. Subject to the provisions of section 2 of this memorandum, the following officials of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in the order listed, shall act as and perform the functions and duties of the office of the Administrator of NASA (Administrator), during any period in which both the Administrator and Deputy Administrator of NASA (Deputy Administrator) have died, resigned, or otherwise become unable to perform the functions and duties of the office of Administrator, until such time as the Administrator or Deputy Administrator is able to perform the functions and duties of that office:"

Editor's update: Released today:

"SUMMARY: AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT

"In the next two weeks, the Congress will be considering the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009. This package is the first crucial step in a concerted effort to create and save 3 to 4 million jobs, jumpstart our economy, and begin the process of transforming it for the 21st century with $275 billion in economic recovery tax cuts and $550 billion in thoughtful and carefully targeted priority investments with unprecedented accountability measures built in. ... NASA: $600 million, including $400 million to put more scientists to work doing climate change research, including Earth science research recommended by the National Academies, satellite sensors that measure solar radiation critical to understanding climate change, and a thermal infrared sensor to the Landsat Continuing Mapper necessary for water management, particularly in the western states; $150 million for research, development, and demonstration to improve aviation safety and Next Generation air traffic control (NextGen); and $50 million to repair NASA centers damaged by hurricanes and floods last year."

NASA 2.0?

Obama a little confused about today's state, The Swamp (Baltimore Sun - March 2008)

"During the question-and-answer portion of an event at a recreational center here, Obama was asked about the nation's space program. "I grew up on Star Trek," Obama said. "I believe in the final frontier." But Obama said he does not agree with the way the space program is now being run and thinks funding should be trimmed until the mission is clearer. "NASA has lost focus and is no longer associated with inspiration," he said. "I don't think our kids are watching the space shuttle launches. It used to be a remarkable thing. It doesn't even pass for news anymore."

Editor's update: In a video titled "Step Forward" which introduces USAservice.org - public service is highlighted. President-elect Obama narrates and says "You may ask yourself - where's my moon, my levee, my dream ..." as pictures of Apollo 11 and a footprint on the lunar surface appear on the screen. Click on the image to play.

Gration Update

Retired Fighter Pilot to Run NASA?, Washington Post

"What a difference it will make to have an Administrator who has a personal relationship with the President and will have his calls taken," opined one commenter this morning on the NASA Watch blog."

Obama may pick Nutley resident to head NASA, The Star-Ledger

"We've had other administrations who didn't have space backgrounds. He's a retired major general. He has experience running large organizations," said Mark Kelly, a NASA astronaut and West Orange native who had not heard of Gration until his name surfaced for the position."

Too early to call NASA chief job for Gration?, Orlando Sentinel

"A retired Air Force general is not an automatic lock to becomes NASA's next administrator, according to sources familiar with the situation. Instead, these sources -- who requested anonymity because of the fluid nature of the nominating process -- cautioned that no final decision has been made in response to reports that J. Scott Gration would lead the space agency."

Ex-Fighter Pilot Could Be Next NASA Chief, Washington Post

"Sources said the selection is not a done deal, but a formal announcement could precede Obama's inauguration. Gration, who retired from the Air Force in 2006, could not be reached for comment. His possible nomination was reported Tuesday night on the Web sites NASA Watch and Space.com. "He's not at all known to members of the space community," space industry analyst John Logsdon said."

Retired Air Force General Is Leading Candidate for NASA's Top Post, Wall Street Journal

"The choice of Gen. Gration was first reported by online industry publications NASA Watch and SpaceRef.com. The personnel moves follow weeks of speculation that the president-elect was leaning toward appointing a scientist or perhaps a former astronaut as NASA administrator. The current agency head, Michael Griffin, has angered some Obama insiders by publicly lobbying to stay on and bristling at the transition team's questions about current priorities."

Gration to Head NASA, MSNBC

"Nelson, the senior Senator from Florida, flew in space himself and when hearing about Gration's possible appointment said, "I think President Bush made a mistake when he appointed someone without NASA experiece in Sean O'Keefe to head the agency." Following the loss of the space shuttle Columbia's crew of seven O'Keefe was replaced by current NASA Administrator Michael Griffin."

Editor's update: The following was provided by former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe in response to Jay Barbree's article at MSNBC today:

"Jay, just saw your online posting. I didn't realize you had such a dismissive opinion of my tenure. Sen. Nelson never expressed his disapproval, but he's certainly entitled to his view.

But regardless of your opinions, the facts in your column are a bit off. The Columbia accident happened barely a year after I arrived at NASA. Your article infers that Mike Griffin replaced me soon after the Columbia tragedy. In fact, it was nearly two and a half years later.

In that span of time, we formulated a new strategy for NASA -- the Vision for Space Exploration -- announced in January 2004 almost a year after Columbia. We implemented all the Return to Flight requirements recommended by the CAIB before my departure. My successor arrived in time to witness the RTF launch. In between those events we landed the Rovers on Mars - developed, built and launched during my tenure - and kept the space station occupied and supplied through a close cooperation with our Russian space colleagues

So, in spite of my lacking prior experience at NASA, perhaps we did OK? Of course, all that was accomplished is a testimonial to the great commitment of the professionals at NASA. I was given the priviledge of serving them.

Best regards, Sean"

Gration to Head NASA, MSNBC

"Nelson, the senior Senator from Florida, flew in space himself and when hearing about Gration's possible appointment said, "I think President Bush made a mistake when he appointed someone without NASA experiece in Sean O'Keefe to head the agency."

Editor's update: Hmm, isn't it ironic that someone like Bill Nelson would say this about someone else's job qualifications when he himself got a chance to fly on a space shuttle with absolutely no qualifications whatsoever. I'm told that many in the astronaut office gave Nelson the nickname "ballast" at the time. Curiously, Jay Barbree never bothered to mention this blatant hypocrisy. How quickly we all forget.

Key U.S. Senator Cautions Obama on NASA Pick, Space.com

"I think President Bush made a mistake when he appointed someone without NASA experience in Sean O'Keefe to head the agency. I hope President Obama's pick will have that kind of [NASA] background," Nelson said today through his spokesman, Dan McLaughlin."

Editor's update: Again, it is hypocritical in the extreme for Nelson's PR flack to be thumping this theme when his own boss used his position to get a seat on a Space Shuttle - a seat he was utterly unqualified to occupy.

Editor's update: Interestingly, Gration was the very last to be introduced - and then spoke on behalf of the swarm of generals and admirals on the stage. There should be little doubt that he is hot wired to President-elect Obama. Stay tuned.

Video below

More gays to serve in Obama White House, Washington Blade

"Dave Noble, a gay man led efforts to mobilize gay voters for Obama's presidential campaign, will serve as the White House's liaison to NASA."

Editor's update: This is the only article that I came across that describes the new White House liaison to NASA. It is titled what it is titled - and it was published where it was published. If any of you wish to infer that I have a bias in some regard and that I am trying to be sensational, you could not be more wrong. Moreover, if you want to submit posts that get into this guy's personal life, as some of you have, they will simply be ignored. There is zero tolerance for bigotry on NASA Watch.

Recession may ground space flights, The Hill

"President-elect Obama will have to decide the fate of the costly U.S. space program amid a global recession and skyrocketing deficits. Obama faces a decision at the end of April on whether to continue the Space Shuttle initiative, which NASA otherwise plans to shut down. Congress last fall set a deadline for the new administration to decide this spring on whether to reverse course and continue the program, still the only way NASA has to transport Americans into space. Extending the program would come at a high cost; two shuttle flights a year cost $3 billion, according to outgoing NASA administrator Michael Griffin. Thats even more expensive with a $1.2 trillion fiscal-year deficit as a backdrop."

Good Morning Houston

Editor's note: I am scheduled to be on I am onNewsRadio 740 - KTRHat 7:30 am CST this morning.

Editor's update: Wow. I found myself in complete agreement with GWSA (George Abbey) - who was also interviewed!

Editor's note: Sources report that The Obama Transition Team has circulated a name for vetting for the job of NASA Administrator: Major General Jonathan Scott Gration. The name may not ring a bell, but Gration was an early Obama supporter and has been advising him on things since the start of Obama's campaign. As you can see from his online resume Gration is no wallflower. Indeed, having been vetted by life, so to speak, the process of vetting him for the NASA Administrator's job - and subsequent confirmation, ought to be a cinch.

Meanwhile, sources now report that Charles Kennel is not being formally vetted for the Administrator's job but rather, he was contacted at some point by the Obama folks to bounce some ideas off of him.

The last time NASA had an Administrator with close personal ties to the White House, (Sean O'Keefe), NASA got the Vision for Space Exploration. O'Keefe's successor had zero White House credentials or political savvy and NASA's accumulated political capital began to evaporate - and with it support for the resources and attention that the agency needed. If indeed Gen. Gration does turn out to be the nominee, and the next NASA Administrator is a close confidant of the President ...

Hero-Worshipping Obama, Newsweek

"The candidate's new Swahili-speaking military adviser, Gen. Scott Gration, sees him as America's Mandela. The general also has some strong views of his own: 'I believe if you could get rid of all the nuclear weapons this would be a wonderful world,' he says."

Scott Gration, Wikipedia

"... spent a year assisting Hans Mark, the Deputy Administrator of NASA."

NASA chief warns of layoffs if funding levels frozen, Houston Chronicle

"Outgoing NASA administrator Michael Griffin warned today that the space agency may have to lay off an unspecified number of contractors on the back-to-the-moon Constellation program if Congress continues to freeze NASA spending below the $17.6 billion requested for this year by the Bush administration. Griffin told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Space Foundation that continuing funding of the space agency at the level specified in a temporary budget resolution would force the personnel cutbacks."

Editor's note: Isn't it funny how Mike Griffin only plays the layoff scare tactic a few days before he leaves NASA - and does so as a parting shot? This media briefing was not for all the media - only a select few. Others were not allowed to attend. This was likely to be Griffin's last media availability as Administrator. As such, this is very much in keeping with his personal distain for the media and his preference for organizations such as the Space Foundation who are not interested in transparency. Of course, David Mould agreed with this selective media access. Hopefully that will begin to change in a few days.

Reader update: "I've been following what the Obama Transition team has been doing with their Change.gov website and saw that just recently they created something they call the Citizen's Briefing Book. The idea behind this is for people to : "Share your ideas on any issue facing the new administration, then rate or comment on other ideas. The best rated ideas will rise to the top -- and be gathered into a Citizen's Briefing Book to be delivered to President Obama after he is sworn in." Right now there are a few regarding NASA and space exploration but not enough votes to rise to the top. I just wanted to let you know about this with hopes that you would make a post about it. Your website reaches a large pro-space audience and maybe with that kind of exposure the space exploration ideas will have a chance to reach our President-elect."

Charles F. Kennel Bio

NAC Science Committee Continues to Shrink, earlier post

"The NASA Advisory Council (NAC) Science Committee has just lost three of its members. Charles Kennel (Chair), Wes Huntress, and Eugene Levy have resigned. More to follow. Word has it that the three committee members who quit were asked to quit because of their insistence that they wanted to give advice to NASA regarding its entire range of science research - not just the subset relating to moon exploration."

Editor's update: Sources report that Kennel has expressed surprise at the sudden interest by the Obama Transition Team and has confirmed that he is apparently under serious consideration for the NASA Administrator slot. Meanwhile, other sources report that Charles Bolden has yet to be contacted by the Obama Transition Team.

Editor's update: According to JSC PAO the rover will be at the very end of the parade. Along the way it will demonstrate its various control features including the ever popular "crab walk". Astronauts from the STS-126 crew as well as other astronauts and NASA personnel will walk alongside the rover. The rover will be driven by astronaut Mike Gernhardt. The two space suits attached to the back end of the rover will be occupied by a spacesuit technician and astronaut Rex Walheim. When the rover gets to the reviewing stand it will stop, Walheim will disconnect himself from the rover, step down, hold up an American flag and salute President Obama.

The rover will be shipped to Washington DC by truck. I am awaiting cost numbers from NASA for the rover, NASA personnel (including the technicians who support the rover) and other costs associated with NASA's participation - as well as who is footing the bill. I suspect (but do not have any numbers) that when is all said and done, the cost will be cheaper than some of the silly extravaganzas that are regularly featured in the parade. A media day will be held at NASA HQ on 21 January from 1:30 to 3:00 featuring the rover.

Earlier posts

NASA Needs Wil Wheaton

Editor's note: Remember when I said that "NASA needs Kirk not Scotty" the other day? Well I was wrong. NASA needs Wesley.

The other day many of the NASA Gen Y crowd were furiously tweeting and retweeting a link via Twitter that points to yet another Administrator poll/petition site. At first, although skewed by their preferences, it seemed to at least have some of the right names on it (even if I was deemed more qualified than Wes Huntress for a few days). Then yesterday it turned into yet another example of Internet narcissism by deluge of followers of the guy who runs Bad Astronomy blog. Alas, my "followers" were weak by comparison. I am clearly not worthy. Oh well. Here is a chance to boost Wil Wheaton's post-Star Trek career (he is currently Number 2). He actually has some interesting things to say. Give him your support. Maybe he can fix NOMAD.

P.S. Although Mike Griffin is leaving NASA, you can still be one of the 3,000 people (real and imaginary) who supported his quest to stay on the job. The current tally is 2,919, so time is running out if you want to be part of that elite group of 3,000. The most popular Griffin supporter name thus far is "Anonymous". In addition, "Frank Poole" (the movie astronaut killed by HAL 9000) and "Harry Stamper" (Bruce Willis in "Armageddon") are still unwavering in their support of Mike as well.

Editor's note: Wil Wheaton's name suddenly disappeared from this online "poll" despite clearly being in second place. So much for the veracity of these sites - not that anyone suspected that there was.

Transition Team Update

MSFC gets ear of next White House, Huntsville Times

"Rex Geveden, president of Teledyne Brown Engineering Inc. and a former Marshall deputy director, along with Shar Hendrick, a former Marshall liaison to Congress, met with transition team members in Washington."

Editor's note: One of the DIRECT guys is supposed to have met with the Transition Team at NASA to talk about their Powerpoint rocket as well. Word has it Buzz was going with them. Contrary to rumoured intentions, the job of the NASA Transition Team is not to pass judgement on everything at NASA - but rather, to collect data. At some point, someone will ask if they have heard of one engineering idea or another - or heard the concerns of one field center vs another. Or paid attention to a prominent ego or vocal advocacy group. They cannot listen to everyone, but it is worth their time to try and do their best in that regard such that the largest population feels that they have had a shot at providing input and advice.

It is the Transition Team's job to have covered all the bases - even if some of the input is of marginal or mostly pro forma value in the grander scheme of things. If you look at Change.gov you will see that the Obama effort is erring on the side of being inclusive and transparent. Contrary to its popularly rumoured closed door activities, the Transition Team members onsite at NASA are not making engineering or programatic decisions. Nor are they selecting the next NASA Administrator. They are collecting data for others to use. The really hard work - by others - starts on 20 Jan 2009.

Previous Transition Team Updates

Editor's update: Oh no: all the DIRECT fanboys are upset with me again - including bodily function puns. (Sigh). Others are throwing hissy fits about how awful I am when it comes to their pet rocket - yet at least a dozen reader posts here today mention DIRECT and/or Jupiter. Oh well. I certainly hope they conducted their discourse in a more adult fashion with the Transition Team.

NASA Renegades Pitch Obama Team New Post-Shuttle Plan, Popular Mechanics

"We were received well, but they were very clear they are offering no opinions at this point," says Ross Tierney, a collectible space model kit designer from Florida who presented the alternative plan. "To get what is essentially a presidential level meeting is an honor and privilege for us. We hope something comes of it." .... During today's meeting, the Jupiter Direct team presented a copy of the February issue of Popular Mechanics that profiles the origin and spread of their alternative idea."

Editor's update: a "collectible space model kit designer" made the presentation? They couldn't even find a real engineer? Oh well, now the Transition Team can check that box off their list.

Earth Scientist Emerges as Possible Replacement for NASA Chief, space.com

"Despite a last-ditch campaign by some supporters to keep NASA Administrator Mike Griffin on the job, the transition team of President-elect Barack Obama is now vetting a handful of replacement candidates, among them scientist Charles Kennel, who previously ran the agency's Earth science division, according to sources familiar with the situation."

NAC Science Committee Continues to Shrink, earlier post

"The NASA Advisory Council (NAC) Science Committee has just lost three of its members. Charles Kennel (Chair), Wes Huntress, and Eugene Levy have resigned. More to follow. Word has it that the three committee members who quit were asked to quit because of their insistence that they wanted to give advice to NASA regarding its entire range of science research - not just the subset relating to moon exploration."

It is rocket science - NASA can bring space advancements down to benefit Earth, MarketWatch

"NASA is promoting itself in more down to earth terms these days: It claims the technology it develops to explore life in outer space can actually help sustain life on this planet. NASA's "Greenspace" is a Web site launched last year to showcase several environmentally friendly projects that are underway at NASA's Ames Research Center."

Greenspace

Editor's note: This is a far more likely outcome given the pattern and themes that Obama's team has followed on related nominations such as OSTP and NOAA. Wes Huntress has reportedly taken himself out of consideration otherwise he'd fit the bill as well. One thing to note folks: if someone is under consideration, they certainly know it by now. And if they know it, as Scott Pace wisely suggested, they don't show it. You do not do this sort of thing at the last minute - especially within the "No Drama Obama" team.

Meanwhile, Gen. Bolden still claims to have not been contacted in any way. Other names that continue to fill up my email box include Stern, Worden, Hubbard. And the fact that I keep hearing them means absolutely nothing. As has been the case with O'Keefe and Griffin - and with most of the Obama nominees - it is likely that the real name will emerge only shortly before they are formally named.

Reassessing Constellation will waste space resources - Obama should rename Griffin as NASA's leader, opinion, Gene Kranz, Houston Chronicle

"President-elect Barack Obama faces challenges that will define his administration for years to come. His Cabinet selections indicate that he is building an outstanding leadership team that will competently serve our nation during the critical government transition and the early years of his administration. Soon he must decide to extend the tenure of the current administrator, Mike Griffin, or select a new NASA administrator."

Editor's note: Mike Griffin will be giving an agencywide All Hands presentation on 16 January. He then goes away for a 2 week ski vacation and does not come back. He has submitted his resignation letter but has heard nothing back. More to follow.

Editor's note: OK. I give up. I have tried to keep the rumor mongering and speculation about Mike Griffin's replacement at a low level roar, but everyone seems to be in the mood to speculate these days. Doc has his "Keep Mike" petition and it would seem that everyone that the media talks to these days is "advising" or "familiar with" what the Transition Team is thinking - even before the Transition Team itself knows what it is thinking.

So, have at it. Vote early and often.

Who do you think should be the next administrator of NASA - and why?. Please try and make the suggestions serious. But if you can't fight the urge, then at least try to be funny and/or creative.

Editor's note: The following email was sent out this morning by Marty Hauser, the Space Foundation's VP for Washington operations. It was sent to some members of the media - but not all. I am not on their list it would seem (sigh).

"Please join the Space Foundation for a Q&A breakfast discussion with NASA Administrator Mike Griffin on Tuesday, January 13 at 9 a.m. The event will take place at the City Club of Washington (Franklin Square location), 1300 I Street, N.W., Washington D.C. Please RSVP to SFCG@spacefoundation.org Dr. Griffin began his duties as the 11th Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on April 14, 2005. As Administrator, he leads the NASA team and manages its resources to advance the U.S. Vision for Space Exploration.

NASA chief's wife to Obama: Don't fire my husband, AP

"As for Griffin's book of speeches, it was a natural for the NASA history office and coincides with the end of the presidential term, Mould said. NASA printed 2,500 books at a cost of $57,000 with the ability to produce more..."

Editor's note: I just got my copy of Mike Griffin's book Leadership in Space" NASA SP 2008-564. Despite Dave Mould's comments, I cannot find any mention of the NASA History Office in this book. Yet all of the books I have that the NASA History Office has put out clearly say so. Nor is there any mention of this book on the History Office website. I am told that the Administrator's office actually paid for this book.

Mike Griffin Has A New Book Out for Christmas, earlier post

Editor's note: As has always been the case, when NASA's next Administrator has been under consideration, rumors fly, names are floated (some sane, some wacky), rumors abound, unsuspecting people suddenly see their names online and get annoying phone calls late at night at home and ... well, you know the process. Usually, none of this is close to correct.

A blog posting by the Orlando Sentinel on Tuesday has exploded into a series of un-sourced stories that suddenly proclaim former astronaut Charles Bolden as the front runner to replace outgoing Administrator Mike Griffin (spousal petition campaign not withstanding).

As they say, nature (and the news) abhors a vacuum.

Let's take a deep breath.

First of all, Mike Griffin is toast (sorry Scott and Becky, game over). Second, President-elect Obama has a broad plan. Alas, NASA's role in this plan is only partially colored in. Despite wild ruminations about what the Transition Team at NASA does or does not do or want, many things remain in limbo.

That said, Charlie Bolden is an A-1, five star class act. At some point I will convey a seemingly innocuous encounter I had with him 20 years ago in Building 4 at JSC which, to me, speaks volumes about the man. Sean O'Keefe sought him out to be his deputy. Pentagon politics thwarted that plan. NASA's loss.

This may all be media hype. It may also be spot on. One thing is certain, Mike Griffin is leaving. Obama has a plan. I can see a clear path wherein Bolden is a player at NASA. His post-NASA career speaks volumes to his leadership capabilities.

Let it happen as it needs to happen, folks. Look forward, not backward.

This could be good. Very good. You can buy engineering smarts by the yard. Yet true leadership is much harder to find, and trumps engineering smarts 7 days a week. This is more than being the smartest guy in the room. It is about knowing when this is - or is not - the case. Oops, Mike Griffin never installed that software.

In the final equation, Mike Griffin is just dime-a-dozen hired help. In contrast, Charlie Bolden is a much rarer breed: NASA at its finest.

NASA needs a Kirk in the captain's chair, not a Scotty.

Keep Mike: Week Two

Transition Watch: Petitioning at NASA, Federal Times

"But despite these obvious roadblocks, this reporter wonders if Rebecca Griffin won't be successful in the end. After all, in recent years there have been a few successful online campaigns. For example, in 2007, the fans for the now-cancelled show "Jericho" used an online appeal to convince CBS to keep the program on the air for another season. And a couple of New York Mets fans started an online petition to save the team's giant homerun apple from the scrapheap or auction block after the team moves from Shea Stadium to the new Citi Field this spring. The Star-Ledger reports that the apple will be on display at Citi Field. If television and sports fans can meet with such success, surely fans of the NASA administrator can mount a successful campaign...right?"

Utahn petitioning Obama to keep current NASA administrator (with video!), KSL

"In the coming weeks, Horowitz will send the signatures to the president-elect; he'll also personally take copies to Capitol Hill. Horowitz says it's a small trip, considering the trip this country is capable of with Griffin at the helm. "I truly believe without his leadership NASA will have a hard time returning to the moon and going to Mars," Horowitz said."

Editor's note: "Signatures", Doc? On some pages, one third of the names are "Anonymous", many are fake ("Frank Poole", "Heywood Floyd", "Delos D. Harriman" etc.), and none of them can be verified. All you have to do is log in and log out at Starbucks and you get get a new IP each time. Oh well.

Keep Mike Petition

NASA: Mike Griffin out, Charlie Bolden in?, Orlando Sentinel

"Some of his closest friends and supporters, including his wife, Rebecca Griffin, and former astronaut Scot Horowitz, launched a campaign to try to convince the incoming administration to keep Griffin, a veteran rocket scientist. The sometimes heavy-handed effort ranged from soliciting members of Congress during the last space shuttle launch at Kennedy Space Center, to a much publicized on-line petition and even an e-mail from Rebecca urging that her husband be retained. But Beltway insiders say the effort backfired and even some of Griffin's most ardent supporters on the Hill, like Florida's senior senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, saw the lobbying as craven."

Boosters of Incumbent NASA Head May Be Doing Him No Favors, Congressional Quarterly

"Scott Horowitz, a former astronaut and associate NASA administrator, has been circulating a petition to keep Griffin on board. And just before Christmas, Griffin's wife sent out an e-mail to friends urging them to sign the same document. "This strikes me as pretty unusual, especially to be so public. There's nothing about what I've read or heard that would seem to help Griffin's chances of being retained," said David Goldston, former staff director of the House Science Committee under Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y. "Administrations generally, and this one in particular, seem to recoil at being put in a box publicly."

Ex-astronaut emerges as NASA prospect, MSNBC

"Sources involved in the White House transition said Bolden was under consideration for the NASA post, but they did not indicate that a final decision had been made. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of the selection process publicly."

Editor's note: All of the people mentioned in these articles as Administrator candidates have expressed overt disinterest in the job at one point or another. Bolden has made statements that no one in an official or unofficial capacity has approached him on the topic. Then again, people can change their minds.

Bolden is widely admired - indeed, Sean O'Keefe wanted him to be his deputy until Donald Rumsfeld made that impossible. Of course, it should not be a surprise that Bill Nelson is promoting Bolden - they both flew on STS-61C.

At this point, of all the names floated in these articles, only Scott Hubbard has been seeking the job albeit quietly. Hubbard got a gold star from NASA Watch for his defense of his workforce as Mike Griffin eviscerated it.

As for who will be acting Administrator when Mike Griffin leaves, that has not been decided yet. But Mike Griffin is indeed leaving NASA, folks. His antics of late have simply served to make this a certainty.

Stay tuned.

For NASA Administrator, This Mission Is a Tad Personal, The Fed page, Washington Post

"Democrats, as would be expected, are lobbying intensely for senior jobs in the new administration. It's a bit more unusual to see top Bush administration officials lobbying to keep their jobs. But that appears to be the case with NASA Administrator Mike Griffin. ... But Griffin would be "honored" to be asked to stay on, Mould said. "A lot of people seem to like and support Mike and think he's doing a good job," he said. Hmmm. Somehow we're thinking that "a lot of people" does not include the president-elect's folks."

Keep Mike Petition
Griffin Beg-a-thon Update, earlier post
Vote To Keep Mike, earlier post
Making Sure The Workforce Gets The Message, earlier post
Mike Griffin Has A New Book Out for Christmas, earlier post

Griffin Beg-a-thon Update

NASA chief's wife to Obama: Don't fire my husband, AP (Via Washington post)

"Efforts by those close to Griffin lobbying on his behalf are unusually bold, even for ego-heavy Washington. Past efforts on behalf of job hopefuls have been more behind-the-scenes so plausible deniability can be maintained. "It sounds like the only thing left is to stencil Mike Griffin on the side of shuttle," joked Paul Light, a professor of public policy and a presidential transition expert at New York University. "I've never heard of a campaign to keep one's job that goes beyond the edge of private discussion. ... Maybe he should be texting next." David Goldston, a former chief of staff for the House Science Committee and a lecturer on science policy at Harvard University, said, "This kind of public campaigning to keep a job is unusual and usually tends to backfire in new administrations."

Editor's update: The comments on this AP article at Huffington Post are interesting.

Vote To Keep Mike, earlier post
Making Sure The Workforce Gets The Message, earlier post
Mike Griffin Has A New Book Out for Christmas, earlier post

Editor's 2 Jan 11:27 am EST note: Have a look at these two signatures/comments below from Scott Horowitz's heavily-edited petition to "Keep Mike". I'll be willing to bet that item 2326 will be deleted because it casts doubt on Mike Griffin - yet item 2313 is almost certainly going to be allowed to stand - even if the author's point of reference with Griffin was nearly 50 years ago.

Richardson withdraws as Commerce nominee

"New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, tapped in December by President-elect Barack Obama to serve as secretary of Commerce, has withdrawn his name for the position, citing a pending investigation into a company that has done business with his state."

Richardson move leaves hole in Obama cabin, Reuters

"Possible candidates for the job include Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sibelius -- who was suggested for a number of senior Obama administration posts but has yet to be nominated for any -- and Scott Harris, managing partner of the Washington DC law firm Harris, Wiltshire and Grannis who is an expert in trade issues."

Editor's note: Long known as a fan of commercial space, Richardson's withdrawal could be problematic for commercial space given that another name (among others) rumored to have been under consideration by Obama for a cabinet post was Rep. James Oberstar. In stark contrast to Richardson, Oberstar often deliberately worked against enabling legislation and regulation to facilitate space commercialization via the FAA. That said, odds are that Obama would pick a heavy hitter and known performer for Commerce given the sad state of the economy right now. And of course, space commerce is certainly not an issue involved in any part of the decision making process. Stay tuned.

Vote To Keep Mike

The Mike Griffin Fan Club, Freespace, Discovery News

"A more grass-roots effort was launched today by Scott Horowitz, a former space shuttle commander whose last job with NASA was as the associate administrator for the agency's new exploration initiative, which includes the development of the controversial shuttle-derived Ares rockets, along with Apollo-style capsules called Orion. Horowitz has started an internet-based "Keep Mike" petition drive. When I checked it a minute ago, eight people had signed up."

Keep Mike Griffin as the NASA Administrator Petition

"Petition sponsor Scott "Doc" Horowitz docsaerospace.com"

Editor's 24 Dec note: Contrary to the intent of this last ditch attempt to drum up support, it would seem that non-fans of Doc and Mike can also post snarky comments ...

Editor's update: When I first visited Doc's Keep Mike petition, there were a handful of comments that did not support Mike Griffin. I went back a few hours later and those comments were gone but several new anti-Griffin comments appeared. They too were later removed. Since Doc created the petition he must be the one removing all of these comments.

Editor's 24 Dec update: I just checked again a few hours later and all of the dissenting opinions have been removed again (by Doc). What a sad way to spend your Christmas holiday - checking on a website to purge anti-Mike commentary. To be certain, everyone is entitled to their opinion and many of the folks posting on the petition site (by name) are sterling individuals with reputations beyond reproach. But trying to pretend that there are no contrary views by simply removing them is pretty pathetic. If nothing else Doc, this selective editing action by you simply underscores the commonly held opinion that you and you successors at ESMD are utterly incapable of dealing with criticism or differences in opinion. We can only hope that the changes that lie ahead will correct this chronic defect.

That said, if you support Mike Griffin, by all means express your support. But do not confuse what you read on Doc's heavily censored website with reality - just as you should not make the same mistake about what you read on NASA Watch.

Editor's 24 Dec update: Perhaps the most bizarre part of this "Keep Mike" petition move is an email that is making its way around the NASA and Washington aerospace community. I have gotten this from 3 4 people thus far. Check the full text of this note from Mike Griffin's self-described "Number One Fan" i.e. his wife. Message below:

From: Rebecca Griffin [mailto:Rebecca.Griffin@.......]
Sent: Wednesday, December 24, 2008 9:54 PM
Subject: petition
Folks,
Yes, once again I am embarrassing my husband by reaching out to our friends and "imposing" upon them. Sigh, what's new? The number 1 fan is a role I have earned, because I know how hard my husband works, how honest he is, and what a positive difference he has made at NASA in just three and half short years. So, I couldn't think of an easier or better way to let you know about this true "grass roots" endeavor that was set up by former astronauts to encourage the incoming Obama administration to consider keeping Mike Griffin on as NASA Administrator. If you are not interested, please delete this email and accept my apologies for bothering you. If you are interested, just log in to the web site shown below. And, if this is inappropriate, I'm sorry.
Merry Christmas,
Becky

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/KeepMike/

Editor's 26 Dec update: There is now a Remove Mike Griffin As NASA Administrator Now petition - soon to be filled with fake names and "anonymous" signatures, no doubt.

Editor's note: Have a look at the "Open for Questions" feature at Change.gov. Searching for "NASA" produced 116 questions. "climate" resulted in 208 questions, and "space" resulted in 262 questions. Searching for "education" resulted in 2,375 questions, and "economy" resulted in 2,551 questions. Based on this unscientific sample, it would seem that education and the economy are ten times more important than NASA or climate change.

Of course, if people started to submit more questions regarding NASA - questions related to NASA's role in the economy and education, that would change. Right now, searching for "NASA education" only yelded 6 questions and "NASA economy" only yielded 5. This is a curious result given all of the energy NASA and its supporters put out regarding NASA's contributions to the economy and its role in inspiring the next generation. Then again, it seeming reflects the fact that at least among the people submitting questions thus far, they either do not get exposed to NASA PR and/or do not make the same connections between NASA, education, and the economy, that NASA supporters want them to. Now is as good a time as any for NASA supporters to make the effort to highlight those thematic connections.

Oh yes: searching for "NASA Griffin" only yielded 6 questions, 50% of which are not exactly Pro-Griffin. Contrast this with Doc Horowitz's heavily censored petition which is apparently scoured many times a day so as to remove any and all dissent, thus producing the appearance of a 99.99998% positive rating for Mike Griffin. Perhaps Rebecca Griffin should send out another email to Washington insiders and NASA employees in her Rolodex urging people to post pro-Mike Griffin questions at Change.gov so as to skew the search results in Mike's favor...

Mike Griffin's No. 1 Fan, FreeSpace, Discovery News

"Well, a couple of things. One, I've never read NASA Watch so I don't know what's on it, but I'll assume that what you're telling me is true. This petition is about Mike Griffin the man, about the administrator... "

... Just to close the very last step, were you asked, or did the idea of the petition spring solely from you?

"This was completely my idea. I didnt even tell Mike. In fact, I think he was a bit flabbergasted when he saw it. I take all the credit, good or bad. This was my idea."

The Fight Over NASA's Future, NY Times

"The Obama transition team, in meetings and requests for information from NASA, contractors and others with a stake in the process, has asked whether increased financing can narrow the five-year flight gap by speeding development of the new spacecraft. The advisers have also asked what the costs and consequences might be of continuing to fly the shuttles for at least one or two additional flights, or even to keep flying them until the next system is ready. The team has also asked whether the development program is truly in trouble and, if so, whether the Ares I should be modified or replaced by rockets used by the Air Force to launch satellites, or the Ariane 5 rocket from Europe. While some involved in developing the rockets have read volumes into the questions, a spokesman for the transition team, Nick Shapiro, said that "the role of the agency review teams is not to make recommendations on any of the issues they are reviewing. They are fact-finding and preparing the full range of options for consideration by the incoming appointees."

Editor's note: the following was sent out to the Change.gov email list today - I checked and there a half a dozen or so space-related questions already posted.

"Dear Friend: We recently launched a new feature on Change.gov called Open for Questions. Thousands of you responded, asking 10,000 questions and voting nearly a million times on questions from others. Now that we've answered some of the most popular ones from the last round, we are open for questions again. Ask whatever you like, and vote up or down on the other questions to let us know which ones you most want the Transition to answer. Get started now at http://change.gov/openforquestions. We're looking forward to learning about what you want to know. Thanks, John D. Podesta, Co-Chair, Obama-Biden Transition Project"

Editor's note: It would seem that Mike Griffin and Mike Coats want to be extra certain that everyone within NASA's contractor workforce knows what Neil Armstrong thinks about Mike Griffin and the Obama Transition Team.

-----Original Message-----
From: Coats, Michael {JSC-Center-Director}(JSC-AA)
Sent: Sat 12/27/2008 3:33 PM
To: JSC-DL-JSC-Contractors
Subject: FW: WSJ Letter by Neil Armstrong

-----Original Message-----
From: Griffin, Michael D. (HQ-AA000)
Sent: Saturday, December 27, 2008 8:38 AM

Future Space Opportunities Are the President's Call

You recently reported on the decisions that the new administration will face in connection with the American manned space program (" Tough Decision Looms on Space Shuttle's Fate ," U.S. News, Dec. 17). Your article indicated that President-elect Barack Obama's transition team "faces a tough early choice between extending the life of the aging space shuttle and accelerating its replacement."

Geek 4 Prez

Obama to boldly go where no geek has gone before, AP

"President-elect Barack Obama used to collect comic books, can't part with his BlackBerry, and once flashed Leonard "Mr. Spock" Nimoy the Vulcan "Live Long and Prosper" sign. That and other evidence has convinced some of Obama's nerdier fans that he'll be the first American president to show distinct signs of geekiness. And that's got them as excited as a Tribble around a Klingon. Obama is good at "repressing his inner geek, but you can tell it's there," especially when he goes into nuanced explanations of technical matters, said Benjamin Nugent, author of the book "American Nerd: The Story of My People." "One imagines a terrifying rally of 'Star Trek' people shouting, 'One of us!'" Nugent said, in an interview conducted by e-mail, of course."

The Worst Leadership Performances of 2008, Washington Post

"Act Clueless Award: Michael Griffin. The incumbent administrator of NASA judged Lori Garver, head of president-elect Obama's NASA transition team, as "not qualified" to evaluate the merits of the return-to the moon Constellation rocket program. Griffin then sought an audience with the president-elect. Speculation is that Griffin is afraid that the Obama administration will gut his pet project and so he has asked NASA contractors to withhold information on Constellation."

Orlando Sentinel on NASA

We think: NASA's chief should welcome Obama team's scrutiny, opinion, Orlando Sentinel

"As NASA prepares to come under the direction of a new president, Mr. Griffin might believe he is saving the Constellation program by shielding it from outside interference. In reality, he does the program and his agency no favors if he stands in the way of a robust review of the current plan and any alternatives. Without such a review, the Obama administration might be hesitant to commit the billions of dollars needed to carry out the program. Its transition team already is looking critically at chronic cost overruns at NASA."

NASA's essential place in space is saving Earth, commentary, Orlando Sentinel

"Griffin says the agency should not be evaluated by how well it estimates costs. That is an astounding statement. How are we are supposed to judge NASA programs if NASA can't give us a dollar figure with which to weigh cost and benefits? At least he is being honest. Like many government agencies, NASA's strategy has long been to underestimate costs and overestimate benefits."

Editor's note: The X- Prize Foundation has submitted a 3 page document "Five years out from the announcement of a new vision for America's Space Exploration program, important lessons about what NASA should be doing and how it can best meet those goals are available."

Do you have something (document, study, memo, etc.) to share with the Transition team? Send it here. You can see what they have posted online here.

Earlier Transition Team items

Transcript: President-elect Barack Obama's Radio Address

"Right now, in labs, classrooms and companies across America, our leading minds are hard at work chasing the next big idea, on the cusp of breakthroughs that could revolutionize our lives. But history tells us that they cant do it alone. From landing on the moon, to sequencing the human genome, to inventing the Internet, America has been the first to cross that new frontier because we had leaders who paved the way: leaders like President Kennedy, who inspired us to push the boundaries of the known world and achieve the impossible; leaders who not only invested in our scientists, but who respected the integrity of the scientific process.

Because the truth is that promoting science isnt just about providing resources - its about protecting free and open inquiry. Its about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology. Its about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when its inconvenient - especially when its inconvenient. Because the highest purpose of science is the search for knowledge, truth and a greater understanding of the world around us. That will be my goal as President of the United States - and I could not have a better team to guide me in this work."

Smoothing Out The Transition

We think: NASA's chief should welcome Obama team's scrutiny, editorial, Orlando Sentinel

"For NASA, the transition between the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama has been a bumpy ride. The blame goes to NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. Last week the Sentinel reported that Mr. Griffin, trying to protect the space agency's Constellation program, was obstructing information-gathering by Mr. Obama's transition team. With its goal of sending astronauts to the moon and Mars, the program is considered Mr. Griffin's signature project. Mr. Griffin vehemently disputed the report. But a NASA spokesman confirmed to The Washington Post that the administrator had told the head of the transition team, a former associate administrator at NASA, that no one on her team had the engineering qualifications to evaluate the agency's choice of rocket for the program."

Editor's note: Multiple sources report that John Holdren will be President-Elect Obama's science adviser. Word has it that this signals how some additional science and technology agency appointments are going to be made and what the Obama Administration is going to be focusing on. Stay tuned.

Wikipedia: "John P. Holdren is the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He earned a bachelor's degree from MIT in 1965 and a PhD from Stanford in 1970. His work has focused on global environmental change, energy technologies and policies, nuclear proliferation, and science and technology policy. Dr. Holdren currently (2007) serves as the chairman of the board of directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and is director of the prestigious Woods Hole Research Center."

Lubchenco Will Helm National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Washington post

"President-elect Barack Obama has tapped Oregon State University professor Jane Lubchenco, one of the nation's most prominent marine biologists, to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Lubchenco, a conservationist who has devoted much of her career to encouraging scientists to become more engaged in public policy debates, is also a vocal proponent of curbing greenhouse gases linked to global warming. The transition team could not be reached for comment, but several sources confirmed today that Lubchenco had been picked and was headed to Chicago for the upcoming announcement."

Presidential Inaugural Committee Invites NASA To March In Parade

"The Inauguration Committee for President-elect Barack Obama officially extended an invitation Wednesday for NASA to be part of the 56th Inaugural Parade on Jan. 20. The crew of NASA's recent STS-126 space shuttle mission and other agency officials will join representatives from across the country and our armed forces in this historic parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington following swearing-in ceremonies on the steps of the Capitol."

Another idea below.

Launching Orion on EELVs

Obama Team Considers NASA Use of Modified Military Rockets, Wall Street Journal

"President-elect Barack Obama's transition team, considering ways to reduce the cost and risk associated with manned space exploration, has broached the idea of using modified U.S. military rockets to launch the eventual replacement for the space shuttle. No decision has been made and the concept raises major technical, funding and policy issues. But in recent weeks, the transition team assigned to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been asking aerospace industry officials about the feasibility of such a dramatic shift in priorities."

Editor's note: When asked in today's ESMD about moving Orion to an EELV Doug Cooke said "We do not have any data on that specifically." This is certainly a rather odd thing for Doug to say given that he and his staff regularly tell people that they know that using Ares 1 to launch Orion would be cheaper and safer than using an EELV. In order to know that Ares 1 is cheaper, don't you need to know what the cost of launching Orion on an EELV is Doug? Otherwise, how can you do the math to show that it is cheaper?

Tough Decision Looms on Space Shuttle's Fate, Wall Street Journal

"Keeping the Shuttle flying is not without risks, however. An internal National Aeronautics and Space Administration study projects that extending the program until 2015 would cost up to an additional $13 billion and could increase the chances of accidents with astronauts aboard. Findings of the study, which has not yet been released, are likely to be discussed during a NASA news briefing on Wednesday."

Editor's note: Additional space-related documents have appeared at Change.gov. The Coalition for Space Explorationhas submitted a one page description of their organization and 12 page report of a Gallup poll they conducted on space in 2008. NACA submitted a 3 page document on "top aviation issues".

Do you have something (document, study, memo, etc.) to share with the Transition team? Send it here. You can see what they have posted online here.

Earlier Transition Team items

The Future is TBD at NASA

Uncertainty Clouds Transition at NASA, Washington Post

"These are awkward times at NASA, which may or may not have a new leader soon and may or may not be on the verge of building a brand-new moon rocket. There has been a kerfuffle about a tense discussion in the headquarters library between NASA Administrator Michael Griffin and the leader of President-elect Barack Obama's transition team for the agency. There have been reports of cost overruns and delays in major NASA missions. Someone leaked an e-mail in which Griffin referred to a Bush administration "jihad" against the space shuttle. A former NASA official blasted the agency in an op-ed column. The comments posted on space blogs are full of rancor, accusations and anxiety."

NASA, Audits, and Lawsuits

NASA's budget history threatens its future, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with an auditing company hired to review NASA contracts. The firm, Horn and Associates of Utah, says it has found millions of dollars in overpayments but was unable to get a full picture of the problem because NASA refused to let it see all its records. In a complaint filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, the firm cited one example in which a NASA employee at Johnson Space Center in Houston defended contractors, whom she called her "customers," and refused to go after some of the companies to refund the money that was overcharged. NASA disputes the claim and the incident at Johnson Space Center."

The View From The Left

What NASA Could Be, Daily Kos

"It's no secret I have mixed feelings about Griffin. He is not an unqualified crony or industry lobbyist. Griffin was at the very least a passive observer and at worst an active instigator in the shameful censorship of climate change data that was finally brought to light by courageous action of the legendary Dr. James Hansen. Dr Alan Stern, coming from a completely different direction, noted in a pointed NYT editorial last week that another ongoing internecine battle pits the cancerous cost over run NASA culture against an up and coming progressive approach that could save taxpayers billions."

Editor's note: In the opening sketch on Saturday Night live last evening, Gov. Blagojevich is depicted on C-SPAN shaking down a Senate Committee for bailout money to solve his own personal problems. At one point, his wife comes up to him and demands to be "put on the NASA Board".. Blagojevich tells her "but you're not qualified". She replies "But I just got my class 3 real estate license!".

Editor's note: I have been featuring space-related items that I have found posted on President-elect Obama's official Change.gov website for a week - as well as the ways to submit and view items on their website. Curiously, the crowd at NASA - the Gen Y types - who have been the most vocal about how they want to change NASA to suit their lifestyle and way of working and collaborating have not submitted a darn thing (at least not that I can find) to Obama's website.

This is very odd when you consider all of those web and powerpoint things they are so fond of generating, their incessant Twittering, and frolicking via avatars at NASA "meetings" in Second Life. Indeed, this is even more peculiar when you consider that the Obama administration is overtly sympatico with the whole social networking paradigm - indeed, they used it to get elected! You'd think that the NASA Gen Y crowd would be all over this opportunity.

So much (it would seem) for the NASA Gen Y/Web 2.0 crowd - at least, those self-selected few who have been vocal and doing all of the arm waving this past year. Perhaps a new group - one that is more willing to actively engage with (and work to transform and enhance) the status quo - can step up to the plate and continue the discussion?

To be fair, NASA employees have been told in no uncertain terms that they are not to communicate with the Transition team outside of the formal NASA process that has been established. But these documents and reports that have been generated have been widely shared outside of the NASA and contractor workforce. They have all been featured on NASA Watch. Is no one outside of NASA willing to send them in? Could it be that the "reach" outside of the agency that the Gen Y folks at NASA are so fond of pointing to is far more shallow and under-motivated than they thought?

Wonkette on NASA/Obama Flap

NASA Head Trying To Keep Outer Space Secrets From Obama Transition Team, Wonkette

"Like grimy Chicago leeches, the Obama "transition team" (AS IF) has sent review panels to every federal agency to decide which budget items need to be cut, forever, to finance the next $100 billion wave of AIG bailouts. Agencies like FEMA probably abandoned their entire offices before their transition team appointments, just to avoid the embarrassment, whereas places like NASA -- which holds valuable information about quasars, space monsters, and the planets Mars and Neptune -- are simply telling the transition team "YOU WOULDN'T GET IT YOU STUPIDS -- PHYSICS." Space nerds"

Editor's note: Yes the commentary is rude and often obscene - as are the reader's comments. That said, this is a must-read blog inside the beltway - where first impressions and crude jokes can affect official policy faster than you might think (or want).

Editor's note: A number of NASA and space-related documents have started to appear online at the Obama Transition Team website at Change.gov. The NASA Alumni League submitted a document wherein they say that they want everything that has been cut over the past few years restored and that they want NASA's budget to be increased from 0.6% of the Federal budget to 0.8%.

Arianespace has submitted a one page document "Arianespace Briefing for NASA Transition Team" that focuses on the ATV and the ISS. SpaceX has also submitted a one page document which is essentially a thank you note to Lori Garver for a visit SpaceX made to the Transition Team. Boeing submitted a one page documentthat is a summary of topics for discussion for a 9 Dec 2008 meeting with the Transition Team and a 2 page document on "NASA priorities for civil aviation."

The Association of Space Explorers submitted a 54 page document on Asteroid Defense.

Do you have something (document, study, memo, etc.) to share with the Transition team? Send it here. You can see what they have posted online here.

Leaders search for ways to save NASA Langley, Daily Press

"The downward trend in NASA Langley Research Center's budget almost looks like a going-out-of-business sale - and it's up to leaders in the region to urge the new presidential administration to care. That message was delivered to a group of political, community and business leaders Thursday by Hampton University President William Harvey."

Editor's note: A link to the Orlando Sentinel article is featured near the top of Drudge Report titled as "SCIENCE FIGHT: NASA becomes transition problem for Obama..."

Keith Olbermann did a segment on this story tonight. Go to this page and click on "NASA to Obama: Out of my space!" Orlando Sentinel reporter Mark Matthews was interviewed.

Obama vs. NASA, round 1, opinion, LA Times

"Indefensible as Griffin's actions are here, the NASA administrator's stonewalling to incoming Obama bureaucrats doesn't come entirely unprovoked. Griffin's agency is the patriotic window-dressing to which elected types love to promise support for futuristic human space exploration when constituents are watching but don't actually pay for when it's budgeting time."

Tracking the transition: NASA not cooperating?, Federal Times

"If cooperation is truly a problem at NASA -- or any another agency for that matter -- perhaps it's time for the White House and Obama's transition office to sit those folks down and make them watch the Sesame Street clip below. Because as any preschooler can tell you: cooperation makes it happen."

Transition team trouble at NASA, Nature

"When one member of the team, who are meant to smooth the transition from Bush-rule to Obama-rule, told Griffin they were "just trying to look under the hood" Griffin replied: If you are looking under the hood, then you are calling me a liar. Because it means you don't trust what I say is under the hood."

Lost in space: NASA chief fighting with Obama, Facing South

"As chief of NASA, Griffin is also in charge of overseeing NASA's role in tackling global warming -- which Griffin isn't sure is really a problem."

Re-establishing NASA's Leadership, Huffington Post

"To allow NASA to accomplish its lofty goals while simultaneously stimulating the American economy, NASA must continue to engage this new commercial space community. This new commercial space industry should be viewed not as a competitor, but as a critical partner. Therefore, trailblazing commercial programs such as COTS, Centennial Challenges, and the now-defunct Mercury Fund should be renewed, expanded, and emulated throughout NASA's mission directorates."

Does Obama Want to Ground NASA's Next Moon Mission?, Time

"The mere fact that the story is making the rounds reflects the very real friction between NASA and the transition team -- which has sparked a groundswell of support among space agency employees to keep the boss. Within NASA, there is a real concern that while the Obama campaign rode the call for change to a thumping victory in November, change is precisely what the space agency does not need."

Star wars between NASA head and Obama transition team, Ars Technica

"The main bone of contention, Cowing told us, is the Bush administration's troubled "Vision for Space Exploration" moon program, which Griffin had been charged with bringing to fruition. "He pretty much threw out what was done before and started from scratch," says Cowing. "He came up with a plan that a lot of people say really wasn't ready for prime time, and he just shoved it down everyone's throat."

Griffin denies he clashed with Obama official, Huntsville Times

"It has never occurred that a president-elect has picked a (NASA administrator) before that date," said Pace, a NASA associate administrator from 2005 until May. "There's a first time for everything, though. This administration is interested in civil space. So, I wouldn't rule it out because there is no historical precedent."

Griffin Responds - Partially

A Message From the NASA Administrator

"A recent report in the Orlando Sentinel suggested that NASA is not cooperating with members of President-elect Obama's transition team currently working at Headquarters. This report, largely supported by anonymous sources and hearsay, is simply wrong."

Editor's note: Of course the witnesses who have provided information on your comments do so anonymously, Mike. That is due to the way that you deal with dissent at your agency.

NASA transition sparks sharp talk, MSNBC

"The Sentinel report quoted NASA's chief of strategic communications, Chris Shank, as acknowledging that Griffin felt the transition team members dealing with NASA lacked the engineering expertise to make a proper assessment of some of the information they have been given."

Griffin says he is cooperating but some don't agree, Orlando Sentinel

"Sources close to the transition team said Thursday that Garver and her five colleagues until now have been getting cooperation from "most" NASA staff on most programs except Constellation. According to one very informed official, "[Griffin's office] is definitely resisting, and telling others to resist." The team, however, does not appear to be intimidated."

Major NASA Kerfuffle, Achenblog, Washington Post

"John Logsdon, former director of the Space Policy Institute of George Washington University, said he could see but not hear the conversation as he signed books across the room. "No voices were raised. No blows were struck. It was an eyeball to eyeball in the sense of two people having an intense discussion, people gingerly walking around them," Logsdon said. "These kind of conversations are going on all over town now. But almost all of them are behind closed doors. What's different on this one is that it was in a public setting."

Early friction plagues talks between NASA, Obama team, Houston Chronicle

"There is natural tension," said John Logsdon, a space historian who has served as director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University. "The transition team is asking questions that are on everyone's mind. The NASA administrator is saying, 'Trust me. You don't need to ask these questions.' The transition team can't accept that response."

It's Time To Go, Mike

NASA has become a transition problem for Obama, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA administrator Mike Griffin is not cooperating with President-elect Barack Obama's transition team, is obstructing its efforts to get information and has told its leader that she is "not qualified" to judge his rocket program, the Orlando Sentinel has learned. In a heated 40-minute conversation last week with Lori Garver, a former NASA associate administrator who heads the space transition team, a red-faced Griffin demanded to speak directly to Obama, according to witnesses. In addition, Griffin is scripting NASA employees and civilian contractors on what they can tell the transition team and has warned aerospace executives not to criticize the agency's moon program, sources said. Griffin's resistance is part of a no-holds-barred effort to preserve the Constellation program, the delayed and over-budget moon rocket that is his signature project."

Editor's note: Mike: everyone seems to have gotten the message - except you. It is time to go.

The Transition Team is doing what the White House has said that they want them to do. The White House wants them to be able to "look under the hood" at all levels of government and has directed you to cooperate with them. How you can think that this unprofessional behavior on your part will endear you to the incoming Obama team is baffling.

Fact Sheet: Ensuring a Smooth and Effective Presidential Transition, White House
Executive Order: Facilitation of a Presidential Transition, White House

Gore Talks Climate Change With Obama and Biden

"All three of us are in agreement that the time for delay is over," Obama told reporters as he sat between Gore and Biden at the transition headquarters after the meeting. "We all believe what the scientists have been telling us for years now," Obama said, "that this is a matter of urgency and national security, and it has to be dealt with in a serious way. That is what I intend my administration to do."

Obama says climate change a matter of national security, Reuters

"Obama hopes addressing climate change can create the kind of jobs that will help pull the U.S. economy out of a deepening recession. He has begun to lay out plans for a massive recovery program to help stimulate the U.S. economy and create about 2.5 million jobs."

NASA Chief Questions Urgency of Global Warming (2007), NPR

"I have no doubt that ... a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with."

Editor's note: Ok, so how would Griffin fit in with the Obama team on this issue? Not well, it would seem.

Making NASA Relevant Again

Obama Offers First Look at Massive Plan To Create Jobs, Washington Post

"Obama said the massive government spending program he proposes to lift the country out of economic recession will include a renewed effort to make public buildings energy-efficient, rebuild the nation's highways, renovate aging schools and install computers in classrooms, extend high-speed Internet to underserved areas and modernize hospitals by giving them access to electronic medical records."

Obama won't sneak smokes in WH, Politico

"The president-elect said his administration is interested in "elevating science once again, and having lectures in the White House where people are talking about traveling to the stars or breaking down atoms, inspiring our youth to get a sense of what discovery is all about."

Editor's note: This is where the new Administration's immediate priorities are going to focus: fixing the economy and the underlying infrastructure that keeps it going. Where NASA fits in this refocused political environment is not clear. If NASA can be seen as a player in the overall renewal of infrastructure, education, and increased efficiency, etc. then maybe it has a shot at getting some of that money. But when it comes to continuing an expensive "return to the moon" plan initiated by an unpopular president - one whose benefit to a battered economy and society is hard to explain, the future does not seem very bright. That said, Obama is also looking to inspire people once again - especially the youth of America. Despite its problems, some part of what NASA does always seems to be inspirational.

But you need more that inspiration as a reason to place an emphasis on space exploration and NASA. NASA's tired old excuses as to why it is important or relevant will no longer work. People at NASA need to start paying attention to this new political reality and where NASA does or does not fit into it.

Editor's note: Do you have something (document, study, memo, etc.) to share with the Transition team? Send it here. You can see what they have posted online here.

Obama-Biden Transition Team: Your seat at the table

"As an extension of the unprecedented ethics guidelines already in place for the Obama-Biden Transition Project, we take another significant step towards transparency of our efforts for the American people. Every day, we meet with organizations who present ideas for the Transition and the Administration, both orally and in writing. We want to ensure that we give the American people a "seat at the table" and that we receive the benefit of their feedback. Accordingly, any documents from official meetings with outside organizations will be posted on our website for people to review and comment on. In addition to presenting ideas as individuals at www.change.gov, the American people deserve a "seat at the table" as we receive input from organizations and make decisions. In the interest of protecting the personal privacy of individuals, this policy does not apply to personnel matters and hiring recommendations."

Editor's note: Do you have something (document, study, memo, etc.) to share with the Transition team? Send it here. You can see what they have posted online here.

Obama-Biden Transition Project: Space Solar Power (SSP) -- A Solution for Energy Independence & Climate Change

"A National Security Space Office (NSSO) study concluded in October of 2007 that "The magnitude of the looming energy and environmental problems is significant enough to warrant consideration of all options, to include ... space-based solar power." This NSSO report also concluded that SSP has "enormous potential for energy security, economic development, improved environmental stewardship, advancement of general space faring, and overall national security for those nations who construct and possess a (SSP) capability." We urge the next President of the United States to include SSP as a new start in a balanced federal strategy for energy independence and environmental stewardship, and to assign lead responsibility to a U.S. federal agency."

Let the sun shine in, The Economist

"Today it is not just robots in science-fiction tales who are believers in the wonders of space solar power (SSP); the idea also has a small but growing number of human adherents. The basic idea is simple. Light from the sun is the most abundant and cleanest source of energy available in the solar system."

Obama Policymakers Turn to Campaign Tools, Washington Post

"Barack Obama's incoming administration has begun to draw on the high-tech organizational tools that helped get him elected to lay the groundwork for an attempt to restructure the U.S. health-care system. ... It is the first attempt by the Obama team to harness its vast and sophisticated grass-roots network to shape public policy. Although the president-elect is a long way from crafting actual legislation, he promised during the campaign to make the twin challenge of controlling health-care costs and expanding coverage a top priority in his first term."

Editor's note: Is this a preview of the new way in which the Obama Administration will pursue policy initiatives? If change is in store for America's space policy at some point, would these "high-tech organizational tools" be used to generate and/or enhance support? Is NASA going to be using them as well? And if so, how will this approach fare when it collides with the long-feared (but often hard to specifically define) "prohibition against marketing and lobbying" by NASA? This will be interesting to watch.

Departure Trajectories

NASA Deputy Administrator Dale to Resign on January 17

"NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale announced Wednesday her intent to resign from the agency, effective Jan. 17, 2009, in advance of the new administration coming into office. She has served as NASA's second-in-command since November 2005.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to work with Shana for these last three years," NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said. " ... I will miss her."

Editor's note: This is a somewhat curious thing for Mike Griffin to say i.e. "I will miss her". Shana Dale is leaving effective 17 January and the Inauguration is on 20 January. That is a total of 3 days. Its not as if Griffin is going to be staying at NASA all that long after she departs ... or is he still harboring a plan to pull a Goldin maneuver?

Transition Update

Obama Teams Are Scrutinizing Federal Agencies, Washington Post

"Wearing yellow badges and traveling in groups of 10 or more, agency review teams for President-elect Barack Obama have swarmed into dozens of government offices, from the Pentagon to the National Council on Disability. With pointed questions and clear ground rules, they are dissecting agency initiatives, poring over budgets and unearthing documents that may prove crucial as a new Democratic president assumes control. Their job is to minimize the natural tension between incoming and outgoing administrations, but their work also is creating anxiety among some Bush administration officials as the teams rigorously examine programs and policies."

Stimulus Plan - and NASA

Stimulus can help NASA reach goal, op ed, Houston Chronicle

"... opportunities may exist if these decisions are placed in a broader context and seen as a complement to addressing the financial crisis the nation is now facing. One of the first orders of business for Congress and our new president will be to take up a new stimulus plan in the next session that could rival the cost of the recent $700 billion financial bailout. The Obama space policy provides a blueprint for leveraging increased NASA funding to meet the new administration's broader economic, innovation and environmental goals. Key areas for stimulus investments might be: ..."

AIP FYI #110: Senate Economic Stimulus Bill Includes New Science Funding

"NASA: "For necessary expenses, not otherwise provided for, in carrying out return to flight activities associated with the space shuttle and activities from which funds were transferred to accommodate return to flight activities, $400,000,000, with such sums as determined by the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as available for transfer to 'Science', 'Aeronautics', 'Exploration', and 'Space Operations' for restoration of funds previously reallocated to meet return to flight activities."

NASA Presidental Transition Action Item Log

Editor's note: The following is an amalgam of several different versions of a document titled "Presidential Transition Action Item Log" provided by NASA sources this week. More than 80 specific requests to NASA by the Obama Transition Team are listed. This document is maintained by the PA&E (Program Analysis and Evaluation) Office at NASA HQ.

Obama Team Seeks Data on Possible Changes to Ares, Orion, Space News

"U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's NASA transition team is asking U.S. space agency officials to quantify how much money could be saved by canceling the Ares 1 rocket and scaling back the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle next year."

Editor's note: The phone calls and emails are coming in from JSC, MSFC, and KSC. Additional Transition Team action items have made their way to the field centers. These requests seek information into costs that would be associated with Ares 1 cancellation, alternate ways to launch as reduced Orion including EELVs, foreign launch vehicles. Stay tuned - there will be more.

FYI Mike Griffin has made it abundantly clear that he would not stay at NASA if such changes to his architecture were to be recommended. As such it seems to be a virtual certainty that he'll be departing - soon.

NASA 2.0.2

Netroots Nation: Progressive NASA and Space Policy Under a New Administration (video) (PartI) (Part 2)

NASA Presidental Transition Action Item Log

69. Information Transparency - List the agency's major information dissemination activities (in reports, on web sites, etc.). Describe how the agency decides what information to publish on the Internet and on paper. Identify the agency officials who manage these decisions and to whom they report. Note: OCIO and OP may have inputs

Transition Update

Editor's note: According to various sources at NASA, among the things being researched by NASA HQ staff in response to inquires by the Obama Transition Team (aka PETT) are: estimates of what it would take to terminate and/or fly the shuttle between FY 2010 and FY 2012; results of PA&E's commercial crew/cargo study; a detailed look at authorized budgets vs actual appropriations (including un-obligated funds); possible lawsuits that NASA is anticipating; contracts needing to be awarded; regulatory issues that may arise; the status of various international arrangements; plans for use of the ISS; and NASA's agreements with the DoD on launch standards and interfaces. In other words, just the routine sort of things you'd expect to be researched and discussed as a hand over was about to take place.

As you can see from this 24 September SMC presentation below, the PA&E folks already had a good idea of what they needed to be prepared to provide. But they did need a little assistance in focusing this effort agency-wide: in that same meeting (according to official notes) Griffin "reminded members that the Agency will have only one transition book, and does not want mission directorates and centers to be working on individual transition documents. He requested that members manage this proactively, and stop independent efforts. He committed to share the transition book with members and to seek their contributions. He requested that everyone remain a NASA team in the next 6 months, and that PA&E provide a status on their activities next month."

NASA Presidential Transition Status, NASA PA&E Presentation given at the 24 September 2008 SMC

CBO Director to Head OMB

Obama Names OMB Director, Washington Post

"[Peter R.] Orszag, 39, is director of the Congressional Budget Office, where he oversees a staff of 235 people who produce nonpartisan analyses of economic and policy issues. Orszag is widely respected for his work on how Americans receive medical care. Unlike many of his predecessors, who hewed closely to pure number-crunching, Orszag has carved out a niche as a leading international thinker on health policy."

CBO: An Analysis of NASA's Plans for Continuing Human Spaceflight After Retiring the Space Shuttle

"For the 10-mission manifest, the probability that NASA can retire the space shuttle fleet by September 2010, in CBO's estimation, is between 20 percent and 60 percent. (The lower boundary of that confidence interval results from using the assumption that the probability of launching the shuttle without a minor delay is 80 percent; the higher end of the range derives from the assumption of a 94 percent probability of a minor delay.)"

NASA 2.0.1

Citizenship 2.0, opinion, Washington Post

"We've finally reached something of a left-right equilibrium in the dramatic restructuring of the public sphere that has been underway for the past decade. Against this background, on Nov. 4 the Obama campaign sent an e-mail to supporters from the president-elect signaling aspirations to convert the campaign's success with social networking technologies into a tool not merely for winning but for good governance. Such a conversion would require transcending the factional patterns that currently define Internet-based political communication. It would demand a category shift: to remake the tools of factional organization as instruments of broad, cross-partisan and respectful public engagement."

Editor's note: I ask again: is NASA prepared for this kind of governance paradigm? Is it at all prepared to interact with rank and file citizenry in this fashion? With its own employees?

NASA 2.0, earlier post

Confirmation of Political Appointees: Eliciting Nominees' Views on Management Challenges within Agencies and across Government (NASA Excerpt), GAO

"NASA is currently at a crossroad. In response to President Bush's Vision for Space Exploration, the agency is in the midst of phasing out the Space Shuttle Program and beginning another major undertaking, the Constellation Program, which will create the next generation of spacecraft for human spaceflight. This is NASA's biggest transition effort since landing humans on the moon more than three decades ago and then initiating the Space Shuttle Program a few years later. Moreover, it is expected ultimately to cost nearly $230 billion over the next two decades. Numerous people, hardware, and infrastructures will be affected by coming changes. There are also pressures for funds to be spent on other projects, which poses a financing challenge for the agency."

NASA 2.0

President 2.0, Newsweek

"Obama's transition team is already building an organization to carry on the Internet efforts begun during the campaign. On the stump, Obama laid out plans for a technology czar in his administration--a senior-level, or even cabinet-level, post that he promised would make his White House transparent and ultra-efficient. Obama has talked about streaming portions of cabinet meetings live on the Internet in order to reach more people, and not long after his election he gave one of his first "radio" addresses in video form on YouTube. He's also asked that candidates for jobs in his administration submit their information online, so more than just Washington insiders would be considered."

Why Obama should ditch YouTube, CNet

"In this post today, I'll explain why the government needs to step up, host its own videos and why it is simply improper to rely on YouTube to foot the bandwidth bill for Obama's messages to the people. I will also make the case that the use of YouTube and Google Analytics by the Obama transition team violates the privacy website visitors, and possibly even violates federal rules banning the use of permanent tracking cookies on government websites."

Editor's note: Is NASA up to this challenge? Right now, the answer is a resounding "No". But there are some bright sparks here and there. Can NASA adjust and reconfigure itself so as to be 21st century compliant - and in synch with Obama's White House ? You tell me. Lets see if any of the people who will spend their entire careers working in the NASA of the future - i.e. the Net Gen/Gen Y/Next Gen - have anything to add.

Imagine reconnecting NASA, Alan Stern, The Space Review

"The space program of the United States leads the world. It has produced more historic firsts, delivered more discoveries, and possesses more capability than any of our competitors.

Yet, our space program does not enjoy the strong support it once did. A part of the reason for this is that the current program is too disconnected from everyday life and American society. After all, when was the last time you heard that the space program developed something new that directly touched your life and made a tangible difference to you?

But it need not be this way."

NASA's Black Hole Budgets, OpEd, Alan Stern, NY Times

"As a scientist in charge of space sensors and entire space missions before I was at NASA, I myself was involved in projects that overran. But that's no excuse for remaining silent about this growing problem, or failing to champion reform. And when I articulated this problem as the NASA executive in charge of its science program and consistently curtailed cost increases, I found myself eventually admonished and then neutered by still higher ups, precipitating my resignation earlier this year. Endemic project cost increases at NASA begin when scientists and engineers (and sometimes Congress) burden missions with features beyond what is affordable in the stated budget. The problem continues with managers and contractors who accept or encourage such assignments, expecting to eventually be bailed out."

Alan's stern warning, Nature

"S. Alan Stern used to be a big cheese at NASA. From the looks of things, he'd like to be so again. Stern, former associate administrator at the space agency, has been getting his name out there in a big way. He certainly thinks it's time for change. "A cancer is overtaking our space agency: the routine acquiescence to immense cost increases in projects," Stern writes in a New York Times op-ed piece."

Time to go Mike

Michael Griffin Chats About NASA's Future Under President Obama, Discovery Space

"Irene Klotz: The Government Accountability Office (GAO), in its tally sheet for the new administration, identified the shuttle's retirement as one of the top...

Michael Griffin: ...issues for the transition. Yes, I know. I found that amusing.

IK: Why amusing?

MG: I think the country has enough interesting topics confronting us in the present day and time that space shuttle retirement is probably not deservedly on that list. That's just my opinion. That's a matter of -- to me -- technical program management in the space program and should be approached as such. So I noted the GAO's assessment of that as a top issue for President Obama with some amusement."

Editor's note: I find this exchange rather amusing - and troubling as well. Space policy - specifically human spaceflight - became a significant factor in the 2008 election - albeit focused in Florida - one that both McCain and Obama spent a lot of time on. Position papers and regular statements were regularly fired out by both campaigns - with spill over to a national audience. In addition, the GAO, not always known for its rosy appreciation of NASA's progress, thinks that the future of human spaceflight is a national priority for the new Administration. And Mike Griffin thinks that this is all "amusing" and that space is "probably not deservedly on that list" of national priorities? Gee, talk about a way to take the wind out of every NASA employee's sails. If NASA's leader thinks that space is not important any more...

Time to go Mike.

Transition Update

Obama's NASA Dilemma - The fate of the U.S. space program hangs in the balance, Technology Review

"While other presidents have had the luxury of putting off major decisions on NASA, the Obama administration has a deadline. By April 30, 2009, the new president must decide whether to shut down the Space Shuttle program--currently the United States' only way to get humans into space and to service the International Space Station (ISS)--or extend the program at no small cost. While the current administration has signed an authorization bill to keep the Space Shuttle flying until the end of 2010, the legislation only prevents NASA management from mothballing Shuttle-related programs until the end of April 2009."

Transition Update

NASA faces closer scrutiny, Huntsville Times

"The change in the White House, financial problems and a mini-makeover of Congress will bring new scrutiny of NASA, predicted Keith Cowing, a longtime NASA critic who runs the Web site NASAWatch.com. "There's going to be reviews of all government agencies. NASA is not being singled out. It's just what happens when there is a change in administrations. That's what transition teams are doing right now," Cowing said. "They'll make their recommendations and the new Obama administration will go forward from there." Cowing predicted that the changes at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue would put the microscope on high-profile projects - like the Marshall Space Flight Center-managed Ares rockets, new Mars probes and rovers, and an expanded International Space Station - that fall behind schedule or face cost increases. "Obama has promised an emphasis on science and climate, and I think you will see that shift come to NASA," Cowing said."

Transition Update

Editor's update: The Transition Team has added the following individuals:

Alan Ladwig (former Office of Policy and Planning AA)
Ed Heffernan (former Office of Legislative Affairs AA)
George Whitesides (NSS Executive Director).

Science, Tech, Space and Arts Team Lead, Change.gov

"NASA Review Team Lead

Lori Garver is currently the President of Capital Space, LLC. For the past 25 years, Garver has been a leader in the aerospace community, working in senior roles in the non-profit, government and commercial sectors, including serving as executive director of the National Space Society and as a Vice President of DFI International. In addition, Garver previously served as NASA's Associate Administrator of Policy.

Roderic ("Roddy") Olvera Young is Senior Vice President of TMG Strategies, directing the firm's Technology and Environment team and providing strategic counsel to the firm's clients on their high profile conflict and crisis issues across a range of industries. He previously worked on Banking and Appropriations Committee assignments and served as the Press Secretary to NASA's Administrator as a Presidential appointee."

NASA OIG Report: NASA's Most Serious Management and Performance Challenges

"As required by the Reports Consolidation Act of 2000, this memorandum provides our views of the most serious management and performance challenges facing NASA. We continue to use this forum as a means to draw attention to areas within the Agency's key programs and operations that need to achieve greater economy, efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability. In determining whether to report an issue as a challenge, we consider the significance of the programmatic, institutional, and external concerns in relationship to the Agency's mission; susceptibility to fraud, waste, and abuse; whether problems are systemic; and whether there are safety issues that could result in injury or loss of life. Through various initiatives and by implementing recommendations made by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and other evaluative bodies, such as the Government Accountability Office (GAO), NASA is working to improve Agency programs and operations and address the following challenges:"

Just Pick the Wrong People

NASA chief doubts he'll keep job during Obama administration, Houston Chronicle

"I didn't have anybody crammed down my throat. We have done that experiment at NASA - to see if people who don't know anything about the space business can run NASA," Griffin said. "It didn't work. I know how to fail. Just pick the wrong people, and you are doomed."

Editor's note: "Just pick the wrong people, and you are doomed." Indeed, Mike. Not listening to the advice of others is equally effective in that regard.

The Path Ahead

Obama's space plans (Video), CNN

"CNN's Miles O'Brien asks what the new president might mean for the U.S. space program."

NASA chief says U.S. must stick to moon plan, Reuters

"If President-elect Barack Obama wants to abandon NASA's road map to the moon, the space agency's chief says he wants no part of it. Not that NASA administrator Mike Griffin, a Bush administration appointee, is expecting to stay on when the Democrat takes office on January 20."

NASA Chief Doubts He'll Keep Job Under Obama, 13 Central Florida News

"Officials close to Obama's transition team said the new president is likely to review Constellation, which is having technical and financial problems that could delay its first mission, currently scheduled for 2015."

NASA HQ Internal Memo: Transition Procedures and Contacts

"Pursuant to the November 8, 2008 Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Transition Procedures, Identification of Transition Contacts, and Access to Non-Public Government and Transition information (MOU), and the accompanying Policy Statement Concerning Identification of Transition Contacts and Information Disclosure to Transition Personnel, the following individuals are authorized by the President-elect's Transition Team to work with NASA: Lori Garver, Roderic Young"

Changing NASA's Course? MSNBC

"In a follow-up phone call, Young confirmed the NASA Watch report and told me that he and Garver were just beginning their talks with space agency officials. Substantive policy discussions are not on the agenda right now. "It's high on listening, and offering options," he said."

Transition Update

Editor's note: So far nothing official has emerged regarding possible Administrator replacements for (likely) outgoing Administrator Mike Griffin - other than the usual rumors, gossip, and chatter (which I have tried to avoid promoting on NASA Watch.). However, this chart is making its way around town. While NASA is not included, it is interesting to see that the environment may take on an unusual prominence (Al Gore as "Climate Czar"). One would think that NASA's Earth Science work would become much more important than it has been for the past 8 years.

Gore says no to 'Climate Czar' role, Washington Times

"President-elect Barack Obama's transition team is flirting with creating a White House "Climate Czar," but climate change crusader Al Gore says he doesn't want the job."

Transition Update

Officials Guiding the Process Are Named, Washington Post

"The Obama transition team yesterday rolled out a new list of officials who will help guide the process, singling out the Treasury, Defense and State departments as its first three areas of focus. The transition team also set in motion a plan to review the policies and budgets at federal agencies and prepared to hire new personnel. .... Tom Wheeler: Science, technology, space and arts agencies. On leave from Core Capital Partners, a venture capital firm that works with early-stage technology companies, where he is a managing director."

Editor's note: I am expecting to see the NASA team formally named shortly.

Reader note: "John Podesta is both the leader of Barack Obama's transition team and the progressive Center for American Progress think tank. CPA has just released the de facto Obama playbook, Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President. The table of contents identifies no specific chapter devoted to space exploration.

However, a separate position paper entitled The U.S. Space Program: Restoring Preeminence in Space Science and Exploration by Neal Lane and George Abbey is included elsewhere on the site."

Transition Update

NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale's Blog: Presidential Transition

"Since mid-summer NASA has been preparing for the Presidential transition that is now upon us. The Office of Management and Budget has led the efforts across the government and has been very forward leaning with both campaign teams to be ready to initiate a smooth transition, particularly with the challenges that we face as a nation today. While NASA usually does not factor as a near-term decision for incoming Administrations, this year the General Accounting Office (GAO) highlighted Shuttle retirement as one of its top 13 urgent issues across the government."

Space: Hoping for Change (Eric Sterner), Discovery.com

"President Obama himself is the wild card in the mix. During the Democratic primaries, he planned to cut into the Constellation program to pay for increased educational spending. Yet by the general election he had reversed himself and promised increased funding to close the gap between shuttle retirement in 2010 and Constellation's arrival in 2015. Does this change represent a true change of heart and the beginning of a commitment to our future in space, or an opportunistic campaign tactic to appeal to voters along Florida's important space coast? That remains to be seen."

More cash may flow for science, research, Huntsville Times

"Currently, NASA spends more than $5 billion of its $18 billion budget on human spaceflight, including the space shuttle program. Marshall's annual budget runs about $2.5 billion. For the Ares program, costly delays could threaten the shuttle replacement rockets, said Victoria Samson, a defense and space expert at the Center for Defense Information. Ares "has had a troubled development," she said. "There've been reports of shaking and wind trouble. It doesn't mean Ares won't eventually work, but it has to be sooner rather than later if the money is to keep coming."

Nelson tells Obama to keep Griffin -- for now, Orlando Sentinel

"Sen. Bill Nelson wants Michael Griffin to run NASA until President-elect Barack Obama finds a "surefire" replacement, according to an aide to the Florida Democrat. Nelson expressed his wishes in a phone call this week to Lori Garver, who is running Obama's NASA transition team. "He called Lori Garver and said that until they had a surefire choice, they should continue with Griffin. And he thinks Griffin is doing a good job," said Bryan Gulley, a Nelson spokesman. Gulley would not say who Nelson would support if or when Obama picks a new NASA administrator."

Editor's update: The transition Team, widely rumored (but not yet officially confirmed) to headed by Lori Garver, is due to begin work at NASA HQ next Monday.

AIP FYI #104: Obama Urged to Quickly Name Science Advisor

"Almost 180 organizations, including the American Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, and the American Astronomical Society signed letters to Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain urging them to quickly appoint a White House Science Advisor by Inauguration Day. The October letters also ask that this position be called the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and that it be made a cabinet-level position."

Obama Space Policy News

New attitude: Obama vows change, agency by agency, AP

"Obama is a space fan, and a troubled NASA is counting on that. NASA doesn't have enough money to do all it has planned and is facing key decisions about its embryonic return-to-the-moon program, new rocketship and about-to-retire space shuttle program. The current NASA plan would have the space shuttle end in 2010 and astronauts not ready to fly in a new moon rocket until 2015. In the five years in between, America would have to rely on the Russians to take astronauts to the mostly U.S.-funded international space station. NASA's robotic Mars program is in disarray, and its Earth-observing program has been downsized. The Obama campaign said it supports a "robust" program of robotic probes and space-based telescopes and satellites. It also emphasized education and NASA's role in climate change research."

5 Signs President-Elect Obama Is a Geek, Wired

"Barack Obama, soon to become the 44th President of the U.S.A., is many things: a statesman, a lawyer, an author, and an orator. It is also our opinion at GeekDad that, even without knowing him personally, we have enough evidence to demonstrate that he is a big geek. Even if you didn't want him to win the election, you have to admit that it would be awesome for him to be not only the first African-American President, but also the first geek President."

Transition Team Update

Obama picks transitionteam, IHT

"With the election now behind them, the Bush and Obama teams began the delicate 77-day transition period. The General Services Administration turned over 120,000 square feet, or 11,000 square meters, of office space in downtown Washington to the Obama transition team, and select Obama advisers were due to be given interim securityclearances."

12 Barack Obama Quotes on Technology

"We are a land of moon shots and miracles of science and technology that have touched the lives of millions across the planet. ... Pointing to President Kennedy's challenge to put a man on the moon, Mr. Obama said: "I will set big goals for this country as president - some so large that the technology to reach them does not yet exist."

Obama Tech Policy Advisor Is On The Transition Team, WIred

"President-elect Barack Obama has named a telecom policy and internet business veteran to his transition team, a move that signals the kind of people and policies that we might be hearing about in the days to come."

2009 Congressional and Presidential Transition, (new) GAO
Obama Transition Team Official website (online - but slow) Unfortunately, space doesn't show up in the drop-down menu as a major issue area or even under the "Additional Areas".
Presidential Transition, GAO
The United States Presidential Transition, U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs
Obama Transition Project Ethics Code

Transition Team SWAT Teams

Obama Plans Could Shake Up Federal Workforce

"Obama intends to make government more efficient by sending "SWAT teams" from the White House into major agencies to improve programs and eliminate waste and inefficiency. He has promised to install a White House chief performance officer to work with federal agencies to set tough performance targets and hold managers accountable. He promises to save up to $40 billion a year by reducing government contracting, especially no-bid contracts."


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