Evidently some people think so. As the Discovery News blog Free Space reported today, former astronaut and associate administrator for exploration Scott Horowitz has created an online petition calling for Griffin to be retained as NASA administrator. The key paragraph from the petition:
Dr. Michael Griffin is one of the most technically and managerially competent administrators in NASA’s history. He has brought a sense of order and purpose to the U.S. space agency, guiding decisions in all programs with the firm belief that our strength as a world power is determined in a large part by our preeminence in space, particularly in human spaceflight. Dr. Griffin has guided the Constellation Program–the goal of which is to return the United States to the moon, and then explore Mars and beyond–out of the conceptual phase and into the factory, with contracts for all of the major elements, despite severe budgetary limitations. In the process he has helped NASA regain the respect of the Congress. Mike Griffin–a true rocket scientist and systems engineer and gifted administrator–is uniquely qualified to take NASA into the next era of space exploration. The undersigned hereby petition the new administration in the White House to retain the services of Dr. Griffin, holding the firm conviction that he is the best hope for the NASA’s future and for the future of U.S. leadership in space.
As of mid-afternoon Wednesday (Christmas Eve), over two dozen people had signed the petition, including a number of current NASA astronauts.
This is not the first time in recent weeks that Horowitz has come to the defense of Griffin. After reports of a “heated” exchange between Griffin and transition team leader Lori Garver were published earlier this month, defended Griffin in an interview with Time, calling claims that Griffin raised his voice in that conversation with Garver “bulls—”, adding: “I believe that anything he [Griffin] was asked he was very honest in answering because he’s a systems engineer. And Lori Garver is not equipped to make technical judgments on the architecture of a space exploration system.” (Horowitz, the article notes, was not present at the NASA HQ book party where the alleged argument took place; his “bulls—” assessment was based on his knowledge of Griffin. Interestingly, the tone of the article was more critical of Garver and the transition team than of Griffin, unlike many of the other articles and editorials in the days and weeks following the initial report in the Orlando Sentinel, including a “leadership coach” who gave Griffin a “Act Clueless Award” based on accounts of those events.)
One person not on that petition so far, but who would seem to quality for membership, is Congressman Bart Gordon, chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee. In a briefing with reporters last week, he recommended that the Obama Administration keep Griffin in office, even if only temporarily until the administration finalizes its choice of a replacement. “I’ve been pleased with the working relationship with Dr. Griffin,” he said, as reported by Aerospace Daily, adding that while Griffin can be blunt, he “understands what he’s doing, in contrast to previous administrations.”