Transition: December 2008 Archives

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."


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This page is an archive of entries in the Transition category from December 2008.

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