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Steely-eyed missile men may still be a part of NASA, but the space agency’s newly sworn-in administrator says he is an unabashed hugger and admits to crying easily. “One more thing you’ll learn about me, I cry,” said Charlie Bolden at an all-hands video meeting with the NASA centers. “I think it’s important to be passionate.” Bolden’s Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said she’s a hugger, too and as Bolden and Garver hugged on stage, Garver exclaimed, “Feelings are not something that were popular in the last few years at NASA, but they’re back. Feelings are back!”
Garver was obviously referring to former administrator Mike Griffin, who once said, “I don’t do feelings, just think of me as Spock.”
Bolden, a retired Marine Corps general and four-time shuttle astronaut, spoke at length about himself and his hopes for NASA’s future. He asked NASA employees in attendance to raise their hands if they didn’t think NASA should go to Mars. When no one raised their hands, he said, “We all agree we want humans to go to Mars, we don’t agree on how to get there. The challenge is to figure out the most efficient, most cost-effective path to get there. We can’t get there the way we’re doing it right now, with a whole bunch of different people thinking we’ll do a little of that and a little of this. We need to come together with a coherent plan.”
A presidential panel is reviewing options for the NASA’s human space program and is expected to issue its report next month. Bolden told workers the review is “nothing to be afraid of.”
Also, a second review encompassing all areas of space — military, commercial, civil and scientific — is under way by the national security advisor, James Jones, a retired four-star Marine general.
“There needs to be a coherent policy and so President Obama has asked General Jones to put together a group to take a look at the national space policy,” Bolden said.
Bolden said he wants working at NASA to be fun. “I will make mistakes, but I’m going to have fun, and I want all of you (NASA work force) to have fun,” he said. However, he cautioned that working in space is a risky business, and not everything is fun. “NASA is in the news every day and there’s always the potential for it to be bad news when we have people in space.”
Showing that she is in touch with the public’s views of NASA Garver shared some encouraging poll results about public opinion of NASA. Of those polled, 72 per cent have a positive impression of NASA. That’s better than Apple, Garver said, which got only a 63 per cent rating.
“We are more popular than your iPod,” she said.
Both Bolden and Garver said they were incredibly proud to be working at NASA again. “I look forward to working with you all,” Bolden said, “and we have some important things we have to do.”