Florida Today, the Houston Chronicle, and the Orlando Sentinel all offer some more details about what appears to be NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe’s impending departure from the agency. All three get the same LSU spokesman to say on the record that the university’s board of supervisors has “actively recruited” O’Keefe; Florida Today notes that O’Keefe “formally applied” for the job Saturday afternoon. An announcement on O’Keefe’s departure could come as soon as Monday.
As for O’Keefe’s replacement, Florida Today, citing an unnamed source “familiar with the selection process”, reports that retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish is at the top of a list that also includes former Congressman Robert Walker and former astronauts Ron Sega, Charles Bolden, and Robert Crippen. (SpaceRef first reported Kadish as the prime candidate to succeed O’Keefe on Saturday.) Sega is considered to be second behind Kadish, according to Florida Today, with a final selection to be announced by Thursday.
And from the curious timing department: Houston Chronicle columnist Craig Hines wrote Sunday that O’Keefe’s insistence on a robotic Hubble repair mission, despite reports suggesting that a shuttle repair mission would have better odds of success, is grounds for dismissal: “Hasn’t NASA chief Sean O’Keefe been so wrong and so duplicitous in his attempt to kill the gloriously successful project that he should quit in embarrassment or be fired?” Nothing in any of the published reports suggests that this had anything to do with O’Keefe’s impending decision to leave.