Transition: January 2009 Archives

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...


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