NASA Not Cooperating with Obama Transition

We expected the Bush administration to pull shenanigans before Obama could take office, and they have, from not implementing the safety protocols on the bank bailout to hiring as many partisans to career government jobs and changing as many environmental rules as possible to make the new President's job harder once he takes office.

What I didn't expect is for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which has captured the hearts and minds of children and adults alike, to be the impetus behind the most blatant refutation of the incoming presidency yet.

When I was a kid, NASA was the coolest thing ever: they sent people into outer space. I saw a space shuttle on its pad down in Cape Canavral when I was no more than 8, and I was more jazzed about that than I was about Disney World.

Little did I know that, less than 25 years later, this epic institution would arrogantly blow off the president-elect who is dedicated to restoring the rule of science over superstition to the government.

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.

"Not qualified?" This is the Lisa Garver who has given more than twenty presentations over the last two decades to various space-related conferences.  The same Lisa Garver who helped run NASA's development & integration for two years.  That seems hard to swallow.

What is the real issue?  I don't honestly know.

Is he afraid for his job? He did decide to continue using the space shuttles even after the weakness in their design was made clear two years before his appointment (when the Columbia went down).

Is he concerned that Obama will dismantle NASA?  He has already been critical of the organization, saying that he'd delay the Mars program to fund Education and that NASA has lost focus and is no longer associated with inspiration." Given Griffin's commitment to getting the International Space Station completed by 2010 as a precursor to manned travel to Mars by 2030 or so, I suppose I could understand that he might be aggravated by Obama's lack of faith in his organization.

Does he feel guilt over funneling money from research and development into more and more low-orbit manned space flights, so much so that we have No other current alternative for manned spaceflight when the shuttle program is decommissioned in 2009? Obama will either have to mothball the shuttle program altogether and go without a manned flight program until new technology can be put into service or extend the service and put up with an antiquated, inefficient, and expensive system... which of course is what Griffin wants to have happen.

When Bush made his largely-meaningless 2003 gesture of talking up putting Americans on the moon and Mars, Griffin seemed to have taken the idea to heart, and he has very specific plans in mind to achieve that end, the Constellation capsule.

According to industry officials, Griffin started calling heads of companies working for NASA, demanding that they either tell the Obama team that they support Constellation or refrain from talking about alternatives.

The companies, worried that Griffin may remain and somehow punish them if they ignore his wishes, have by and large complied.

One consultant said that when Garver invited "several" mid-level aerospace executives to speak to the team, their bosses told them not to go and warned that anything said had to be cleared first with NASA because Griffin had demanded it.

Well goodness!  Not even NASA, that bastion of practical science, is immune to Bush-style obfuscation and scheming.  The budget of NASA is relatively small, $18 billion or so, but, quite frankly, it's starting to look like that money is being thrown down a bottomless hole as surely as the bank bailout was.  Is it time for us to shut major operations of NASA down and give that money to more immediately deserving programs until we can start our space program from scratch using new and efficient technology?

Tags: Barack Obama, Lori Garver, Mike Griffin, NASA, transition (all tags)

Comments

83 Comments

Anyone else love NASA as a kid?

I know I miss the good old days.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 08:03AM | 0 recs
Griffin was not NASA's administrator when Columbia
went down. He became NASA's adminstrator in 2005 whereas Columbia went down in 2003. Griffin had done a great deal to restore confidence in NASA civil workforce especially in the research labs. However the constant political pressure to switch long term programs had been the bane of NASA's poor morale and flux in the workforce.
NASA's loss of focus had to do more with politicians, Capital Hill and executive branch than NASA itself.
by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 08:04AM | 0 recs
Oh whoops.

Let me check that and edit.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 08:13AM | 0 recs
Perhaps so, but...

Right now we have some really severe problems.  Our dropout rates are a disgrace, our economy is tanking, and our infrastructure is crumbling.

Regardless of the source of NASA's problems, the fact of the matter is that it's currently severely flawed, and the best course of action might be to start from scratch.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 08:23AM | 0 recs
How's gutting NASA going to help improve
education standards of Americans? During the time of your inspiration, NASA budget was double its current annual budget...
 
by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 08:39AM | 0 recs
Money is money

Right now NASA's money is not being well spent.  It's better spent on education, I'd say.  Let them go back to the drawing board and earn their budget back.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 08:40AM | 0 recs
Do you think the money we spent on

Education or Transportation are being well spent?
NASA are one of the few (despite the recent downsizing by Bush) places where Research Centers with thousands scientists and engineers work in US. Most of the industrial research centers had been closed.

If you think US do not need Space Exploration or make further advancement in Aeronautical Sciences, it is fine to close it down. I don't think Obama wants that....

by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 09:40AM | 0 recs
All departments need revitalization...

...the difference is that we can live without space exploration for a couple of years while papers get re-drawn for a space agency, while Education and Transportation are necessities.

I love me some space exploration, but we need more than just tough love to set that ship straight.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 09:46AM | 0 recs
And where do you think all those thousands of

folks working at NASA would go to? You want to destroy 75 years of institutional knowledge base. Industrial US is already laying off thousands of engineers, scientists, manufacturing workers...and you want Govt. to add to it? We already have huge influx of technical folks from Michigan applying everywhere. What sort of vision would we hope to inspire our students with to take science or technology as their future careers when we have shutdown or gutted the best research centers?

by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 09:51AM | 0 recs
If they're not fulfilling their function...

So you would suggest employing thousands of well-paid technical professionals to perform a flawed service?  

The government is the same as any other employer: sometimes they have to let people go.  Who knows?  Maybe those employees could be a boon to the private sector with their unique experience base.  I don't know; but I do know that, unless some method of reorganizing NASA and its priorities is applied, the situation won't get better.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: If they're not fulfilling their function...

Aren't we bailing out industries where flawed professionals work? Do Americans really need to buy that many new cars? Maybe we can transfer some of those Corn Ethanol subsidies instead of cutting NASA's budget. There are many many places to cut money before we cut NASA's budget.

Mike Griffin, by many accounts, knows his shit. However, his behavior is appallingly ego driven.

by Pravin 2008-12-11 11:12AM | 0 recs
Fair enough

I agree that we should re-examine all areas where costs can be cut.

I'm just saying that we shouldn't exclude NASA from that just because it's NASA and we used to love it when we were kids.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 11:19AM | 0 recs
Have you worked at a NASA center or

are you aware of all the work that is being done there ? If not how did you conclude that thousands of well paid technical professionals are perfoming a flawed service?

by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 12:11PM | 0 recs
Jebus

We got to the moon in '68.  We got our first space station in '73 (crashed in '79).  We put up the Hubble in '90.

What has NASA done since?  Griffin himself says that we might have been to Mars by now if NASA had been working properly.

We've been focussing on penny-ante sattelite repair using 25 year-old space planes.  You tell me what's flawed about that.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 12:32PM | 0 recs
You want me to list everything that NASA

has done since 1990?

Those 30 year old space shuttles are ran by a private company called United Space Alliance which is a joint operation between Lockheed and Boeing. NASA civil servants only oversees the operation these days.

by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 12:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Jebus

I think the ISS has been an achievement as well.  And it seems to me that NASA's failure to progress has been less a failure of NASA and more of the government's failure to provide a strong direction to NASA (and the funding to match).

by bottl4 2008-12-11 06:17PM | 0 recs
BTW space exploration is not the only

thing that NASA does...

by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 09:59AM | 0 recs
Yes...

...what's your point?

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 10:03AM | 0 recs
You have been harping on space exploration

as it that's only thing NASA does...

by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 12:16PM | 0 recs
"as it" should read "as if"

by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 12:17PM | 0 recs
That's because that's the core of the mission

Everything else is secondary.  No space exploration, no NASA.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 12:22PM | 0 recs
Re: That's because that's the core of the mission

There is no debate in giving money for regular research to NASA. If memory serves me right, the debate is on the Constellation project dealing with manned missions. Obama's people may want to reexamine that and Griffin is like an immature brat in protecting his turf on that.

Some interesting Griffin tidbits: While the guy is undeniably qualified, I wonder if Bush selected him because of any ideological reasons. He made a remark in the past downplaying global warming. And a couple of his college seem to be Catholic colleges(though he has a ton of degrees, so he did go to non religious administered colleges).

by Pravin 2008-12-11 12:29PM | 0 recs
Why would that surprise us?

Bush pretty much only ever hires someone based on ideology.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 12:33PM | 0 recs
NASA: National Aeronautics and Space

Administration.
It's mission statement:

1) To advance and communicate scientific knowledge and understanding of the earth, the solar system, and the universe.

  1. To advance human exploration, use, and development of space.
  2. To research, develop, verify, and transfer advanced aeronautics and space technologies.

NASA's mission is to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.

Space Exploration is one third of NASA's mission. The major components includes aeronautics including aviation (NASA is the research organization whereas FAA is the regulatory body), atmospheric science et al, astronautics including astronomy, astro-physics and space exploration.

From its website http://www.nasa.gov/about/highlights/wha t_does_nasa_do.html

NASA conducts its work in four principle organizations, called mission directorates:

Aeronautics: pioneers and proves new flight technologies that improve our ability to explore and which have practical applications on Earth.

Exploration Systems: creates new capabilities and spacecraft for affordable, sustainable human and robotic exploration.

Science: explores the Earth, moon, Mars and beyond; charts the best route of discovery; and reaps the benefits of Earth and space exploration for society.

Space Operations: provides critical enabling technologies for much of the rest of NASA through the space shuttle, the International Space Station and flight support.

by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 12:38PM | 0 recs
Looks like what I just said.

We're pretty much in agreement, then.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 12:40PM | 0 recs
No because space exploration is one third of

NASA's core mission.

by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 12:46PM | 0 recs
...what?

One of the core missions is space exploration, another is understanding space and the earth's position within it, and a third is developing technologies for use in space.

You take away space exploration, there's not much need for the technology or, for that matter, understanding space.  They're all parts of the same thing.

Your explanation baffles me.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 12:54PM | 0 recs
Aeronautics forms one third of NASA's mission

..aeronautics deal with everything that construes aviation today on Earth including work in advanced aircraft, rotorcraft et al technologies...Earth Science also historically had been a major component of NASA's work.
Historically the budgets were allocated accordingly with one-third going to space exploration. It's original mission statement included the following words "to understand and protect the home planet." Bush administration (Griffen) quietly dropped those words and also the focus on aeronautics had been floundering recently.

See the following...

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.rss. html?pid=20543

Why do you think a person like James Hansen work at a NASA institute?

by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 01:08PM | 0 recs
Point taken

I shake my fist at the White House editing Hansen's conclusions.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 01:13PM | 0 recs
Re: NASA Not Cooperating

they don't have the same people as the ones that made it great, those have retired, and their replacements don't have the brain power, and they have more bush-like pro-military spread Christianity sensibilities.  

The people who created the race to space were innovators, thinking outside the box as they like to say, and they were universally brilliant.  Things didn't go wrong then cause the big brains who'd invented the whole thing were around. But their students came from a different cut of cloth, they were more diligent and less able to think around corners. That's why we have lots of accidents now, in case anyone wondered.  And with Bush they found their political leader, so that's the way it is.

It's the same sort of with Detroit, there was a time that car manufacturers wanted excellence, in design and engineering, and they weren't making decision on pennies saves and lives worth losing.  

If these agencies and companies are to achieve anything in the future, they'll need reinvention and they'll need thinkers who can see around corners.

Sadly, this makes it clear that NASA is a hack agency.  They're all covering their sorry butts.  

by anna shane 2008-12-11 08:08AM | 0 recs
I'm sorry but your conclusion NASA is

a hack agency is plain wrong. I suggest you visit some of the NASA research centers and the Space Flight Centers before making such sweeping statements.

by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 08:11AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm sorry but your conclusion NASA is

not across the board, with the leadership?  Make a case that this isn't evidence that hacks are in charge, and let's chat?  

by anna shane 2008-12-11 08:14AM | 0 recs
NASA's leadership are mostly political appointees.

When Clinton's Goldin started his Cheaper, Faster, Better made safety a lesser priority.
Bush's first administrator Scott O'keefe was a bean counter who hardly knew the difference between SRMs and LRMs. Why blame NASA when politicians had been messing with its budgets, programs and priorities all the time?

BTW what is Obama's Space Policy? Why is Lori Garver in charge of his NASA transition team and not somebody with Aeronautics or Astronautics background?

by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 08:22AM | 0 recs
Re: NASA's leadership are mostly

when I refer to NASA I'm not talking about the scientists, it used to be headed by scientists now it's headed by hacks, who get in the way of science.  I'm sure there are plenty of bright people still there, but it's not the same as the first bunch, who would likely be too weird to be hired there now. Who's left from the old days?  Barack should drag one of them back from retirement, that's what I think.  

by anna shane 2008-12-11 08:26AM | 0 recs
No quibbling with your comment here...

by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 09:42AM | 0 recs
Garver seems like she knows her stuff

Even if her considerable involvement with the space program isn't enough technical information, she's just one of the team.

There's an awful lot of cumulative experience on this team.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 08:29AM | 0 recs
I see lot of policy, political et al experience

I don't see any scientific or technical background..wasn't that Anna's peeve about NASA's leadership?

by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 08:46AM | 0 recs
Transition seems like a political thing

These aren't the people that will be running NASA, they're the people who will be facilitating the transition.

We don't know who they have in mind to take Griffin's job at the moment... and at this point, I'm thinking they probably do want to get him out of the way: he's only going to be a pain in the ass from now on.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 08:50AM | 0 recs
I don't think Lisa Garver or any other policy

or political person are the right folks for NASA's transition team..Griffin do have a point.

by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 12:19PM | 0 recs
How do you figure?

It's the political appointees that are going to change, why would Garver be inappropriate for bridging the gap between Bush's political people and Obama's political people?

I imagine that the techs are just going to continue with their work until someone tells them not to.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 12:21PM | 0 recs
Re: NASA Not Cooperating

"Things didn't go wrong then cause the big brains who'd invented the whole thing were around."

I think you're romanticizing the past.  NASA's first drive to the moon was not without problems.  Apollo I had the fire that killed three astronauts.  Apollo XIII came extremely close to losing their crew.

Also, I'm not sure what you're referring to when you say they "have lots of accidents now".  I don't think your view matches the reality of the situation.

by bottl4 2008-12-11 08:43AM | 0 recs
Re: NASA Not Cooperating

we don't agree, that's all.  It's like the first internet innovators, and how many hacks are programming now? The ones that invent a field know it's history, the in's and out's, why they chose one path over another one. That knowledge ought to be transferrable, in theory, but it isn't.  

it's the same in most fields, the inventors of the field have the background, they are the background, and the followers learn it as a piece, and don't learn the original logic. So, they're likely to make mistakes that the inventors didn't count on.  Sure there were accidents in the beginning too, but they didn't try to patch things up and send 'em up.  They tried to get the designs right, the engineering right.

Call me romantic, that's okay by me.  

by anna shane 2008-12-11 09:05AM | 0 recs
Re: NASA Not Cooperating
My problem is that you're providing an explanation for a conclusion (NASA is worse now than when it first began), without any actual facts behind the conclusion.  NASA has had three major catastrophic failures (Apollo I - 1967; Challenger - 1986; Columbia 2003) and one very near-miss (Apollo 13 - 1970).
I don't see a trend towards increasing failures.  If you can point towards actual evidence that NASA is worse now, than I'd be more likely to accept your explanation.
Frankly my inclination is that NASA was probably more dangerous in the early days than now.  But I'm not positing that as a fact because I have no data to back that up either.
by bottl4 2008-12-11 09:45AM | 0 recs
Re: NASA Not Cooperating

show me proof things are better, even get an affidavit and i'll rethink it. It started out an innovative and exciting scientist based agency and there have been many problems - less money, stupid oversight maybe, hacks put in charge of scientists, but if you're saying the agency is fine, better than ever, prove it.  Otherwise we just disagree on why it's been limping along. I think it's because the present talent can't hold a candle, you can think whatever, but making a case that the agency hasn't been slipping? Go for it.  

by anna shane 2008-12-11 01:04PM | 0 recs
Re: NASA Not Cooperating
I don't have to show you proof that things are better to refute your point, I just have to show you that things weren't the idyllic scientist's paradise you're painting them to be back in NASA's big heyday.  Cutting corners and saving pennies were just as big then as now.  And it led to accidents and deaths then, just as it does now.
The big difference between then and now is there was a real political push and the funding to back it to actually accomplish something major (the moon landing).  However, once that was accomplished, the interest dried up and so did the major funding.  This killed the Apollo program and led to 20 years of satellite hauling.  That's not NASA's fault.
I am 100% certain that if the US got serious about a push to Mars, then NASA would be capable of achieving the amazing once again.
by bottl4 2008-12-11 06:31PM | 0 recs
Re: NASA Not Cooperating

You do know that NASa was first started by an ex Nazi, Wernher Maximillian Magnus von Braun?

by venician 2008-12-11 01:37PM | 0 recs
Re: NASA Not Cooperating

no, those trains ran on time?  Very interesting, now, which one of the early scientists should be brought back from retirement to head the agency and restore it's old (checkered) luster.  

by anna shane 2008-12-11 02:00PM | 0 recs
Re: NASA Not Cooperating with Obama Transition

I am guessing Griffen has not heard the phrase you get more flies with honey than with vinegar.

by jsfox 2008-12-11 08:17AM | 0 recs
Re: NASA Not Cooperating with Obama Transition

you should tell him in an email.  it'll probably clear the whole thing up.

by the mollusk 2008-12-11 08:30AM | 0 recs
Nah

We already told him to put the new cover letter on the TPS reports, and he told us to fuck off.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 08:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Nah

Sounds like he had a case of the Mondays.

by the mollusk 2008-12-12 05:28AM | 0 recs
Obama won't dismantle NASA.

It sounds like there are issues between Griffin and Garver, but I'm not sure the situation is quite as dire.

I'm not impressed that Griffin embraced Dubya's "vision thang" for Mars (didn't that derail the Hubble Telescope program?) and it certainly looks like corporate cronies might have been behind it. If that's the case, I'd like to see the program audited and its ostensible benefits (if any) validated.

by Sumo Vita 2008-12-11 08:47AM | 0 recs
Re: NASA Not Cooperating with Obama Transition

What does starting from scratch mean?  So you suggest firing everyone and disbanding the agency.  Then, a few years later hiring a completely new staff and designing a whole new bureaucracy as well as a new rocket.  How would this not be far more expensive than adjusting what's already there?

My opinion is that it comes down to whether or not you think space exploration is a valuable use of resources.  If you don't, then you shut down NASA.  If you do, then you work with NASA.  What they're doing with the Obama transition team is stupid, but starting over from scratch just seems like throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

by bottl4 2008-12-11 08:51AM | 0 recs
Starting from scratch

It means going back to basics with new leadership and starting the program with a clear vision.

They don't necessarally have to scrap everything, but there's no doubt in my mind that what NASA has been up to has been muddled, aimless, and wasteful.  A new program might cost more at first, but a modern and streamlined organization without the baggage of the last couple decades, I think, would end up more economical, safer, and successful.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 09:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Starting from scratch
You should be able to replace the leadership at NASA now without having to start from scratch.  To my mind, you could replace NASA in your coment with say, the Department of Justice just as easily.  The Bush administration has wrecked that department just as badly, to my mind, but we shouldn't need to start from scratch there either.
I think NASA has been aimless pretty much ever since they landed on the moon and then abandoned the .  The entire space shuttle program was pretty small beans.  At least they've now set a goal (back to the moon, then on to Mars).  The question is whether or not this new goal is worth pursuing or not.
by bottl4 2008-12-11 10:33AM | 0 recs
If they can do that, then more power to them

I'm not dead-set on dismantling the whole thing, I just think that it would be easier and better in the long run to excise the diseased appendix entirely.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 10:42AM | 0 recs
Re: NASA

Close NASA down and save billions.   Seriously, what do we get out it?   Ego ... its nifty to be a space "power" but aside from that what?

Let the air force take over a much smaller agency to do what we need to do strategically and let private companies launch our private sats, or pay other nations to do it.

NASA isn't worth it.

by RichardFlatts 2008-12-11 10:14AM | 0 recs
I wouldn't go that far

We still need a space agency, and eventually we need to get back into exploration, but we need to get our own house in order first.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 10:17AM | 0 recs
Air Force does have a Space Agency or

better known as Space Command.. NASA performs civilian tasks and have a different mission.

by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 12:21PM | 0 recs
Re: NASA Not Cooperating with Obama Transition

I guess we can take the list of people who want to put all the auto workers out on the street, and start another list of the people who want to put all the research scientists and NASA employees out on the street.  I'm going to stand by my position that the middle of a recession is not the time to talk about which industries to shutter.

It's generally a lot cheaper to save a job than to create a new one.  Add to that the fact that it's positively incoherent to be in favor of a government stimulus and simultaneously in favor of acts like shutting down NASA and starting from scratch.  Even conceding that there's plenty about NASA that could be improved, from a fiscal standpoint that's still government spending that stimulates the economy, unless you think Keynes was a nut.  And I would wager that money spent on research and aerospace continues circulating in America and stimulating the economy a lot longer than the money we spend on many other things.

This diary seems to argue that NASA is run by a bunch of clueless hacks who ought to be replaced, but Lisa Garver is necessarily a smart and well-qualified person who is in the right in this dispute - based upon what?  Her experience in administration at NASA!  

I like what Obama has said about NASA and I hope he succeeds in getting his priorities implemented.  But once we get down into the weeds I have no way of knowing if his transition team is behaving inappropriately or what the issue might be.

by Steve M 2008-12-11 12:01PM | 0 recs
Good point

I'll concede that there may be other ways to save our aerospace R&D sector other than my suggestion that we reboot NASA, but my point is that we shouldn't be afraid of drastic action just because it's NASA and we have strong feelings about it from our childhood.  If NASA isn't doing the job we need it to do, something needs to be done.

I don't think that Griffin is a "clueless hack."  I don't think I said that anywhere.  His resume is actually pretty impressive.  What I am saying is that the article that I've seen seems to portray him as an egomaniac who is employing classic Bush-era strategems for controlling the narrative and maintaining a wasteful status quo: tell the contractors that their money depends on not telling Obama's transition people about other options.  Assuming that the article is reporting accurately (and I don't see what they gain by not), it doesn't matter how Obama's transition people are behaving if this guy is feeding them lines as was reported.  That's inappropriate behavior.  Regardless, I haven't heard of any other transition teams acting inapproprately, and it doesn't seem in-character for Obama to hire such a team... so I guess I don't see where you're going with that line of thought.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 12:19PM | 0 recs
After Bush's last bean counter appointee

Griffen was a much welcome change. And I also don't think Garver is the right person for the transition team..for goodness sakes appoint folks who know the place, worked there and rose up from the technical ranks.  Is that so difficult. Why do Washington talking heads think they know everything and can tinker with anything in the World? The political idiots actually had run NASA to ground. And we are looking to the same folks to bring it back to health..hah...

by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 12:28PM | 0 recs
Okay, just going to point this out

Technical people aren't always the best to run divisions.  The best techs often (not always, often) have bad organizational and people skills.

The best thing to do, in my mind, is to have people that understand the fundamentals of the science but whose skillset is oriented around managing workers.

We don't know who Obama is going to have take over the agency if he doesn't keep Griffin... but he's made pretty good choices for other departments so far, in my book.  Let's give him the benefit of the doubt, shall we?

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 12:38PM | 0 recs
I'm not sure Garver has the right background
to understand the fundamentals of aeronautical or space science..you made my point.
All major research centers which are ran well are ran by technical folks with appropriate management training. Otherwise they are like Sean O'keefe who had little clue and basically destroyed the agency...
by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 12:50PM | 0 recs
You might even be right...

...but it matters not at all because Garver isn't going to be the one in charge, she's the one helping to transition to the new person in charge, who we don't know yet.

Surely her 20 years of involvement with aerospace stuff is sufficient to at least get the basics of the agency transfer...  She's on a team of 6 people, so she isn't even doing it alone.  I don't see what you're getting at.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 12:57PM | 0 recs
you need to talk to NASA folks who

actually saw how Goldin's team operated. The Columbia's mission management failure to recognize safety as the most important factor can be squarely laid upon Goldin's "Faster, Cheaper, Better mantra."

by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 01:25PM | 0 recs
I would prefer 'safer, safer, safer.'

I don't really truck to that kind of thing.  I'm fully willing to acknowledge that Griffin may know what he's talking about, and any scholar hates outside interference, but his behavior in trying to manipulate the data is inexcusably Bushian.

If he's as smart as people say he is, he'd know that Obama is more likely to give him a fair shake if he comes forward honestly with solid arguments.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-12 04:26AM | 0 recs
I not excusing Griffin's behavior. It smacks of

a high handed arrogance. Griffin is probably trying to provide NASA with a long term program and did not want to disturb the structure that he has put in place. I think I understand where he is coming from. NASA's recent history had been where major programs with 3-5 years work behind it had been cancelled because some joker in DC dreamt that he wants to go to Mars or something like that...But to see from Obama transition team POV, we know Obama is not convinced (with good reasons) whether that's the right objective for NASA today. I think they are trying to find what programs Griffin is underfunding or defunding for the manned Mars program. There lot of complaints from the academia and the NASA Research Centers about this. There seemes to be more of the story underneath that we are not privy to yet....  

by louisprandtl 2008-12-12 05:53AM | 0 recs
I bet you're right

While I think the Orlando paper gave us a really interesting story (hence the diary and associated heated conversation), you're almost certainly right that there's more to it.

Intrigue at NASA?  Sounds like a great novel!

by Dracomicron 2008-12-12 06:18AM | 0 recs
Good conversation you mean with no personal

attacks?....a new dawn at MyDD??? :)

by louisprandtl 2008-12-12 06:38AM | 0 recs
There were some personal attacks...

Just not from us.  

It's unfortunate that a style of discussion where someone takes an extreme position (such as shutting down NASA altogether) to see where the discussion takes them would be considered by many to be "trolling."

In debate class that's just called "debate."

If that's the case, then HA HA I TROL U.  But I learned some interesting things and had a good argument about something many of us are passionate about.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-12 06:43AM | 0 recs
Thanks for the good conversation..you did

change my mind about the Obama transition team. I think Lori Garver et al have a point and need to explore further about this Manned Mars program funding sources...I hope and think that Obama wants to bring back the Aeronautics and basic Sciences part of NASA's mission. Also NASA needs to be wean itself from its dependence on outside contractors like Lockheed and Boeing to construct things that used to be part of NASA's core mission.

by louisprandtl 2008-12-12 06:52AM | 0 recs
yikes..on second read...there are just too many

errors in my writing...arghhhh...

by louisprandtl 2008-12-12 06:58AM | 0 recs
I second that

The Bush era's reliance on contractors for every department is a serious problem.  We need to make sure that our specialists are in-house to ensure that our missions aren't being tainted with excess corporate interests.

Thanks for the chat.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-12 07:04AM | 0 recs
There had been several cases when outside

contractors messed up and NASA did not have or utilized in-house expertise to verify the contractor's results..prime example was Boeing's impact analysis on Columbia Foam strike, it was fatally wrong on all counts. Thanks...

by louisprandtl 2008-12-12 07:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Okay, just going to point this out

Presumably Griffin wants to make the case that some of his programs are good things that should be continued.

It seems to me that a more technically-grounded person might indeed be the best person to evaluate those arguments on behalf of the Obama transition team.  I see the presumed nomination of Steven Chu as a sign that science is definitely back (yeah!) in the Obama White House.  This is another area where I hope the science gets sufficient consideration together with the budget numbers.

I don't think it's unduly critical of Obama to suggest that he's not perfect and he hasn't necessarily assembled a godly and inerrant transition team with respect to each and every segment of government.  It could be, indeed, that the NASA transition team is in need of a little more grounding in hard science.  I'm at least open to the possibility.

by Steve M 2008-12-11 12:55PM | 0 recs
I saw Steven Chu giving a seminar recently...

The DOE is in good hands..he is a visionary...

by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 01:11PM | 0 recs
Point conceded.

The transition team (I posted the link earlier) seems like they've got a very large cumulative knowledge base, though most of them seem to be political/business folks.  

I would imagine that they have their own experts to explain the technical issues to them.  

Where Griffin goes wrong is in trying to limit what the transition folks see & hear, so he can control their conclusions.  That dog just doesn't hunt in today's climate, no matter what you think about the transition team's experience level.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-11 01:11PM | 0 recs
Re: NASA Not Cooperating with Obama Transition

Many other politicians have tried to do all kinds of things with NASA and have failed. I have no fears that Obama will ruin the agency like many here are suggesting. I think diarist is full of hot air and is on yet another witch hunt and much ado about absolutely nothing.

by Iceblinkjm 2008-12-11 02:14PM | 0 recs
...says the guy who defended Harriet Christian

You sure you want to lecture me on hot air?

by Dracomicron 2008-12-12 04:22AM | 0 recs
im with louis above...

while griffin sounds like maybe he should chill a bit and understand that politics is part of his job, why isn't the NASA transition team being headed by somebody with Aeronautics or Astronautics background?

by canadian gal 2008-12-11 02:53PM | 0 recs
Bush administration had successfully destroyed
Research Centers of NASA which were par excellence. NASA Research Centers like LaRC, GRC, ARC were primarily funded from the Aeronautics Code before. After Bush dreamt up his Manned mission to Mars and failed to provide adequate funds for the mission (just like the other empty vessels he floated like NoChildLeftBehind), NASA starved its Aeronautics program, Earth Science program, defunded Astronomy, Astrobiology and other basic and Space sciences programs, cancelled programs like Reusable Launch Vehicles to fund the manned Mars program. This led to few years of turbulence in the Research Centers. Even unmmanned Mars missions were underfunded, which led to layoffs at JPL. But the SpaceFlight Centers like the Johnson Center did well with more human space dollars flowing in. Now that Constellation/Ares program had been appropriated to Lockheed et al, there is lot of pressure from the contractors on NASA to fund the program fully. I think this where Griffen was coming from. But Obama is on record that he does not support the manned Mars program. If I have to guess, the transition team is asking hard questions to find out what is being defunded to fund the Mars program. Thus far, for the out years NASA have not allocated enough funds for the successful implementation of the Mars program.
I think lot of folks would be happy if NASA goes back to funding more fundamental research and building and deploying space vehicles itself, rather than outsourcing most of the space exploration operations to private contractors.
by louisprandtl 2008-12-11 05:05PM | 0 recs
We need to know more before

we jump to conclusions.  Griffin might have good reasons that go beyond partisan politics that should be factored in.  (That still doesn't justify insubordination, though.)  

But there is a different kind of politics that infuses NASA.  Read The Case for Mars by Robert Zubrin, a NASA critic that has been driving them crazy for some years.  There were some reports that Obama was going to support Zubrin's plan in his latest book, Energy Victory, which might be setting off some alarms within NASA, who consider Zubrin a dangerous rogue.  

Zubrin, by the way, was involved with conservatives and libertarians for some time back in the nineties in order to get support for his own idea for a faster, cheaper Mars mission, many of the ideas for which have since been adopted by NASA, although with reluctance.  In particular, Zubrin and some engineers at Lockheed came up with a plan that was magnitudes cheaper that involved sending the return-ship to Mars first (before the people) and giving it a year or two to manufacture its own fuel for the return voyage using gaslight -era technology.

by Dumbo 2008-12-11 04:20PM | 0 recs

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