New NASA, New Administrator Under Obama?

NASA appears to be in the position of being a priority for our new president, somewhat of a rarity. So what can NASA expect under the Obama administration? NASA administrator Mike Griffin met with employees at the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday where workers asked if he would continue as administrator under the new president. “If the next president asks me to continue I would be happy to do it,” said Griffin, “But, I doubt that will happen.” However, if asked to stay, he would only if the Obama White House didn’t interfere with the direction NASA is going (presumably he meant the Constellation program and returning to the moon), and didn’t try to force any personnel on him. He also spoke out against extending the shuttle or using EELV rockets to transport humans to space instead of NASA’s current Ares I rocket design.“If somebody wanted me to stay on but said, ‘No, we need to go over here,’ well,” he said with a shrug, “do it with somebody else.” What else can NASA expect with the new presidential administration?

“While NASA usually does not factor as a near-term decision for incoming Administrations, this year the General Accounting Office highlighted Shuttle retirement as one of its top 13 urgent issues across the government,” NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale wrote in her blog after last week’s election. Dale said NASA has been developing a large set of reference material for the new presidential team to review.

Artists concept of the Ares Rocket.  Credit: NASA
Artists concept of the Ares Rocket. Credit: NASA

Officials close to Obama’s transition team have said the new president is likely to review Constellation, the replacement for the shuttle that suffers from technical and financial problems that could delay its first scheduled mission in 2015.

Some have speculated Constellation could be terminated and replaced by more space shuttle flights and a different rocket design.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, one of Obama’s closest advisers on space, wants to keep Griffin as administrator, and lobbied the Obama team to keep Griffin, at least, for the time being.

Current NASA Administrator, Michael Griffin. Credit: NASA
Current NASA Administrator, Michael Griffin. Credit: NASA

Some congressional and industry sources have cited several potential replacements, from former astronaut Sally Ride to Lori Garver, a former top NASA administrator who heads Obama’s NASA transition team.

Dr. Scott Pace, Director of the Space Policy Institute told Universe Today that putting NASA through a big reorganization could be counterproductive. “Given that NASA has reached a point of stability internally and organizationally, I would hate to see a year or two wasted by yet another re-organizational exercise,” he said. “The new president should give NASA their priorities, tell them what budget they’re going to get and move on from there. NASA has a lot on its plate right now, simply with the transition from the shuttle to whatever comes next. They need to stay focused over the next couple of years on completing their flights safely. So they should focus on that and not reorganization.”

Sources: Orlando Sentinel, Huntsville Times, Shana Dale’s blog,

13 Replies to “New NASA, New Administrator Under Obama?”

  1. Well Done to Griffin to stick by his guns, what NASA needs now more than ever is to stay focused on the mission at hand, and to try and get something done before deadline for once. Even if some of us disagree on the course of action. (We don’t need to go to the Moon, Mars, Mars, Mars)

  2. Moon first, then Mars.

    There are too many resources on the moon to be ignored. It is the perfect place to continue developing the space economy, mine for a clean nuclear power source, develop space habitats and technologies.

    We can launch far bigger spacecraft from the moon than from Earth and at a lower over all cost once a moonbase has been established.

    Interesting stuff have a look…

  3. NASA needs its Admin to pay more than lip service to its officially chartered educational mission, to inspire the youth. With the Constellation rocket’s troubles, prudence would dictate some preparation for a shift to a different booster. As for the Shuttle – trillions for war and bailouts but not a couple billion a year to maintain US access to space in the multi-year interregnum, if the new administration were willing to ADD the money?

    Since people are commenting on the overarching goal, I land firmly on the Moon. Moon vs. Mars is the difference between an island close to Europe and the New World in distance, but not , in promise. Three days’ travel vs eight months almost tells the whole story. The first successful lunar settlers will be the ones to later settle Mars, I believe.

  4. NASA needs new blood. It’s a tragedy that they haven’t gone back to the moon and established a base there by now. And discontinuing the shuttle to let our “buddies” the Russians take us up is a huge mistake. They have the shield tech now to defend against the sun. All they need is to push development of those plasma engines to get to Mars in less than 6 months. The moon shouldn’t be the goal in 10 years, it should be Mars, and it can be done. Year after year of mismanagement.

  5. We need a *space presence* if we are going to become a true space-fareing civilization. A one or two shot to Mars and then stopping achieves nothing worthwhile.

    Go to the Moon and start setting up “camp”. Go to Mars, do the same and push on out into the solar system from there.

    And then, who knows…at some point we will stand on a far-flug ice ball at the edge of the Sun’s domain , and take dead aim at the stars.

  6. There is also not enough resources on the moon, like water,CO2 which Mars has large quanititys.

    But thats for another debate.

    Now we need to stick together and get into space for once and forever, and let all our draems be made true.

  7. The mere fact that there is a 5 year gap between the end of STS and the beginning of
    Constellation is all the proof anyone needs that the only “space” is between Griffin’s ears.

    He should be jettisoned. Soon.

  8. It’s brilliant individuals like Burt Rutan and Paul Moller that are going to make NASA look bad. I look forward to seing that happen, hopefully during Obama’s presidency! Hopefully JP Aerospace will be able to rub it in a little too!

  9. Upon further examination, my apologies to Burt Rutan for using him in the same sentence as Paul Moller. Burt Rutan is a true American Innovator.

    Geeze, Paul Moller knows wankel engines, and how to work the system, he’s worse than NASA. Been working on 1 vehicle for 30 years and not innovating anything new, geeze! Corn ethanol apparently has a use too, that’s the only entreprenuer that will benefit from Obama’s presidency, and he’s been getting over 200 million dollars in government handouts and can’t even sell his only half-working M400x prototype on eBay for 3.5 million. Look for the Moller M200x to fluorish with Obama in office though (bailout money).

  10. We need to keep up our unmanned flights first and use what’s left over for manned flight. Science first.

  11. With the progress Burt Rutan has made, I have gotten the impression in recent years that Nasa is more interested in funding than in progress. They seem to drag their feet whenever a new goal is suggested. THE GOAL IS: to go to mars, so where are we? We’re going back to the moon.
    I was a kid and watched the apollo landings. Its pathetic that I may not see a man on mars in my lifetime. (Oh wait, yes I will – it will probably be china). 🙁

  12. The Obama administration’s first priority should be the expulsion of the political and psuedo-science hacks that Bush has plugged into NASA for the past 8 years. Too often, the science that NASA is supposed to be doing has been corrupted or supressed to reflect a policy position being promulgated by the current administration.

    This ambivalence towards science, and these political appointees (some of them high-level) with absolutely no science background, has squandered a lot of money and wasted promising careers for real NASA scientists and administrators.

Comments are closed.