NASA administrator: Yes we can, oh no you don’t

by | Feb 13, 2009 | Seradata News | 7 comments

Hyperbola is hearing that the process to select a candidate for NASA administrator is not just being held up by the alleged opposition from members of Congress but in fact there are tensions much closer to the centre of government

While the latest reports suggest four names, an increase in one since the previous round of rumours, Hyperbola has heard that the net has been widened substantially to try to introduce into the process as many credible people as possible

Wide ranging discussions and enquiries about potential candidates who could be considered is what has actually been going on. But surely that is the right thing to do you may ask?

Sadly this apparent thorough due dilligence to wring out all the individuals who could be qualified and could be considered is not because that is what was planned from the outset

Hyperbola has contacted the Whitehosue press office to try to talk to people in the administration who could comment on what it has heard but to no avail. Foreign news organisations don’t seem to be very high on their list for responses, which is understandable to a degree

So instead Hyperbola has to state that the following is not confirmed but “reliable sources” (I hate that phrase) have described a broken process where elements within the Obama administration and the NASA transition team are not reading from the same hymn sheet, shall we say, when it comes to military candidates

To say there is a fight between what was the transition team and the administration would be wrong but Hyperbola would characterise it as a “rear guard action” in the truest political sense where a focus on candidates of one type is being challenged by another group of people involved in the process; and this is why there are “several names” in the ring

In some respects you could argue that the Whitehouse was never going to confirm this and are unlikely to admit on the record to a preference for someone just because they are from a certain background; but I tried

So, as we say in England, we are where we are. With the political focus on the $800 billion stimulus bill and a related banking bill that is on its way (watching Jon Stewart’s Daily Show – yes we get that over here 24h late – on this issue was hilarious) one wonders what will happen with the NASA authorisation act’s stop Shuttle retirement activities deadline of 30 April 2009, will they then automatically restart? It would seem that NASA could drift for some time and drift into a 2010 orbiter retirement and a larger gap between that and Ares-Orion’s maiden flight

I have made interview requests to speak to acting administrator Christopher Scolese to ask about the impact of the FY2008 continuing resolution (Yes I thought NASA was operating under FY2009 as well but NASA tells me no), the 30 April sunset clause (pun intended) and other stuff but haven’t even had a no

My conference registration is confirmed, my flight is paid for and my hotel booked, for the National Space Symposium that I had hoped would see the new administrator make their first public speech at but it seems that is now highly unlikely. Will we even see Scolese?

At least the ESA director general will be there with some European space industry chiefs in tow

Talking to a USAF space policy professor this week their opinion was that Obama will be unlikely to get round to focusing on space for another year. That has all sorts of implications for Shuttle and Constellation and reinforces Hyperbola’s view that thanks to the economic crisis and the Obama administration’s internal candidate difficulties, drift is now NASA’s biggest threat

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