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The Name Game

By Keith Cowing
NASA Watch
December 16, 2004

16 December 2004: Ex-astronaut says NASA job not offered, Knight Ridder

“Retired Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr. is proud his name is among a handful being mentioned as the next head of the U.S. space agency. But he’s keeping his day job.”

15 December 2004: Walker mentioned for top job at NASA, Intelligencer Journal

“I am not seeking this position and I know nothing about them seeking me for it,” Walker said in a statement read by his assistant, Peter Baca.”

15 December 2004: NASA’s Future Is Rising From ‘the Swamp’, Washington Post

“So Steidle went, and “I never left,” he said. “One day, I’m sitting next to [astronaut] Buzz Aldrin. The next day, I’m sitting with [astronaut] Tom Stafford. The next day, I’m working on programs to go back to the moon. Who couldn’t love that?”

15 December 2004: Editor’s note: While Bob Walker told the Washington Post and others yesterday that he was “neither seeking the job, nor am I aware I am being sought for the job” Congressional sources suggest that Walker has told people that he is actually receptive to the possibility of being asked. Meanwhile, word is also circulating on Capitol Hill that millionaire Robert Bigelow is prepared to personally lobby for Pete Worden. With the holidays approaching, a White House somewhat chastened by the mistakes made in the Kerik affair, and everyone looking to burn some ‘use or loose’ vacation time, it is becoming increasingly likely that a name will not emerge until after the holidays.

15 December 2004: “Keith, although Mr. Bigelow has a great deal of respect for General Worden, I would appreciate it if you could let the readers of NASAWatch know that, despite rumors to the contrary, Robert Bigelow has not and will not be attempting to influence the NASA Administrator nominee selection process. Currently, there are many excellent candidates for the position that you have mentioned on your Website as well as others whose names may not yet be public. Of course, what we do hope for is that the eventual nominee will be someone who understands the importance of working with the private sector and entrepreneurial entities to achieve the worthy goals of the new Vision for Space Exploration and continue the good work that is already being done.

Mike Gold, Corporate Counsel, Bigelow Aerospace”

Editor’s note: Mr. Gold’s comments not withstanding, I am still receiving reliable reports from within Congressional circles which cite an interest on Mr. Bigelow’s part in Gen. Worden.

14 December 2004: Editor’s note: Now that the names of possible replacement candidates for Sean O’Keefe have been swirling around for a couple of days, reliable sources tell me that both Bob Walker and Bob Crippen are not inclined to take the job (The Washington Post quotes Walker as saying he is not seeking the job). Meanwhile, Adm. Craig Steidle’s name is starting to make the rounds, as is that of former astronaut Frank Culbertson. Pete Worden now has Sen. Brownback quietly supporting him as a possible candidate. Out on the west coast, JPLers are mounting a campaign to advance the name of JPL director Charles Elachi.

14 December 2004: Next leader unlikely to alter Marshall role, McDaniel says, Huntsville Times

“Keith Cowing, a former NASA employee who runs, a Web site that focuses on NASA and its inner workings, said he’s not sure any of those names will fly. “I don’t know of anybody floating around on suggestion lists that can walk right into O’Keefe’s shoes,” Cowing said Monday. “Sure, it would be nice to have a space cadet and a ‘Star Trek’ fan, but what the agency needs is an accomplished manager.”

14 December 2004: Search for new NASA chief begins, Orlando Sentinel

“No timetable has been set for naming a successor. A list of names, first made public by, is floating around Washington, with retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, until recently the head of the Missile Defense Agency, at the top.”

13 December 2004: Editor’s note: I will be on CNN today (Monday) live at 2:00 pm EST to discuss this issue. Some of my taped comments will also air on CNN at 8:00 pm EST tonight. [2:00 pm Transcript – scroll down 3/4 of the page]

12 December 2004: Update: Now the name of Pete Worden has started making the rounds. He apparently has his own cheerleading section – including a well known millionaire – who will soon be working Capitol Hill on his behalf.

11 December 2004: Editor’s note: Names that are circulating as possible replacements for O’Keefe and/or Deputy Adminstrator include former Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. General Ronald Kadish, USAF Ret. (currently the odds on favorite for Administrator on Capitol Hill), former Congressman and House Science Committee chair Robert Walker, former astronaut and one-time Deputy Administrator nominee Charles Bolden, former astronaut and currently DoD Director of Defense Research and Engineering Ronald Sega, and former astronaut and KSC Center Director Robert Crippen. Other names will no doubt surface once everyone arrives at work Monday morning and rumor mongering accelerates into a frenzy.

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.