The Associated Press and NASA Watch report that three members of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) have resigned, apparently because a difference of opinion with NASA leadership. Wesley Huntress, Charles Kennel and Eugene Levy all served on the NAC’s science committee. Huntress and Levy were asked to resign, while Kennel left of his own accord.
So why did they resign, or be asked to resign? Levy, reached by the AP, said that he and his colleague’s scientific interests “didn’t comport with the kind of advice that the administrator and the chairman of the committee were looking for.” In particular, he said that given cutbacks in NASA science programs “we were certainly concerned that a strong commitment to science be maintained.” So did that cost him his spot on the NAC? “That’s a little unclear for me.”
A NASA spokesman told the AP that any outspokenness by Levy et al. on the budget was “why they were asked to leave because that’s not the case at all,” but one suspects that this move may be seen as such among scientists and others who think that science is being sacrificed for the sake of exploration or other NASA programs.
[Update 8/18 8:30pm: Wes Huntress told SPACE.com that his resignation was not a protest against science funding cutbacks. “Suffice it to say that these resignations were over principle," he said, but does not elaborate. As for the overall Vision for Space Exploration, "I wish the agency every success in that effort and sincerely hope that science will be a partner in that enterprise."]