Congress, Lobbying, NASA

Does Mike Griffin need a fan club?

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.”

39 comments to Does Mike Griffin need a fan club?

  • anonymous.space

    Many points in Horowitz’s letter are just factually untrue:

    “Under his [Griffin's] direction:
    •The Constellation Program was started, and is currently designing, developing and testing hardware to execute exploration missions”

    Not true. Assuming their designs can actually be closed, Ares I and the current version of Orion would only be capable of transporting astronauts to the ISS. NASA has no actual exploration hardware (lunar-capable Orion, Ares V, EDS, Altair) under development or testing.

    “•There is International support for NASA’s Global Exploration Strategy”

    Not true. There are no foreign commitments, in terms of funding or hardware, to the Global Exploration Strategy. It’s a set of principles for talks about potential future commitments. It’s a plan to get to a plan.

    “•The Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS) program was initiated and the first commercially developed rocket has flown”

    Not true. Griffin cut the O’Keefe/Steidle budget for the program that was named COTS in half to pay for the Ares I/Orion start.

    Moreoever, if the phrase “first commercially developed rocket” refers to Falcon I, that vehicle has flown without NASA funding or support. It’s supported by a combination of DARPA and private Space-X (Elon Musk) funding. Griffin (or NASA) can’t claim any credit here — Space-X’s launcher for the NASA COTS program, Falcon 9, won’t fly until next year.

    “•Earth Sciences funding has been increased to new highs”

    Earth Sciences received a small increase in the last NASA budget, but the program is well off its highs, with much of the decrease used to keep Ares I/Orion going after the VSE budget projection was not realized.

    “•Fundamental Aeronautics research was restored”

    The annual Aeronautics budget at NASA is about half what it used to be (~$500 million versus $900 million), with much of the decrease used to keep Ares I/Orion going after the VSE budget projection was not realized.

    Griffin does deserve partial credit for the following items, but it’s important to point out they were well underway before he came onboard:

    “•The Space Shuttle successfully returned to flight”
    “•The International Space Station is approaching completion”
    “•The James Webb Space Telescope project has been put on track”

    Griffin gets full credit for the following items, but given all the issues with ESAS and the questionable costs of HST servicing versus replacement, it arguable whether they constitute good management:

    “•The Exploration Systems Analysis Study (ESAS) was completed”
    “•The Hubble Space Telescope repair mission was reinstituted”

    Needless to say, internet petitions from retired astronauts and failed AAs is a new low for the corps and the agency overall. It’s also incredibly stupid for Horowitz to continue the line of argument about the transition team/Garver being unqualified for the job. It demonstrates extreme ignorance about the actual role of Presidential transition teams and their lack of decisionmaking authority (they are non-profit volunteers, not political appointees or civil servants) and can only offend the incoming Administration, whose favor Griffin needs if he’s going to stay in office. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face… sheesh…

    And if we’re really going to talk about credentials, what successful launch vehicle design and proven large aerospace program management experience did Horowitz have before becoming ESMD AA? Very little…

    I appreciate Gordon’s desire to maintain a good working relationship with Griffin, but he and his staff need to start paying attention to NASA’s actual programs, not just NASA’s managers. Relationships mean little when programs are compromised technically, budgetarily, and in terms of schedule, or when they’re needlessly duplicating military/commercial capabilities at great cost to the taxpayer and in terms of opportunity costs for building actual human space exploration capabilities.

    FWIW…

  • sc220

    I’d like to see someone put together a petition to throw him out.

  • I’d like to see someone put together a petition to throw him out.

    My thought, too. It’s easy to set up a petition at the same site.

  • Did you read some of the signatures? I love the second one from “Marsha Ivins.” And number 52.

  • Oops, down the memory hole. Apparently Dr. Horowitz is deleting critical/joke “signatures.”

  • Al Fansome

    HOROWITZ: “•The Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS) program was initiated

    ANONYMOUS.SPACE: Not true. Griffin cut the O’Keefe/Steidle budget for the program that was named COTS in half to pay for the Ares I/Orion start.

    Anon,

    Griffin cut the COTS budget? I am not disagreeing, but this is news to me.

    I had not realized that COTS had a placeholder budget of $1B before Griffin came on board.

    If true, this certainly changes my opinion about Griffin as a COTS supporter. I have been thinking of him as a COTS champion — which was one of the positive marks I was giving him — and you are saying I did not have all the information.

    I am guessing this is “insider knowledge”, but any chance you can share a source?

    HOROWITZ: and the first commercially developed rocket has flown”

    This is a laugh.

    Scott Horowitz is giving Mike Griffin credit for Elon writing big checks from his own private bank account for the Falcon I.

    What a joke.

    - Al

    “Politics is not rocket science, which is why rocket scientists do not understand politics.”

  • I’d like to see someone put together a petition to throw him out.

    My thought, too. It’s easy to set up a petition at the same site.

    Well, unfortnately, we are down half a man, so these things take time (I burnt my hand cooking Christmas dinner)

    In anycase, here is a present – Replace Michael Griffin as NASA Administrator

    Anonymous.space, I hope you don’t mind, I borrowed what you wrote.

  • Well, I’d do it myself, but it seemed kind of mean to do it on Christmas. I thought I’d at least wait until tomorrow. ;-)

  • Doug Lassiter

    The cluelessness of Scott Horowitz on this (if he really is the person who initiated this i-petition) leaves me with diminished respect for the guy. There are many political machinations that a former ESMD AA could bring to bear to serve this purpose, and yes, perhaps he’s doing some of those those as well, but this seems like a joke, and is being treated as such. Check out some of the other bizarre i-petitions this site is managing.

    With due respect to Ferris Valyn, the Dump_Mike petition isn’t any more constructive.

    Perhaps this is an attempt to engage the internet savvy Gen-Y crowd, though in order to do that I gather we’d be looking for a Twitter account as well. Hey, one could probably do justice to the issue in 140 characters or less, which is probably representative of the amount of thought this i-petition garnered by whoever initiated it.

    Mike is an impressive intellect and a forceful leader, but he had a sketchy vision for space exploration dumped on him, and he was put in the position of interpreting it and defending it as well as implementing it. You know, if he had been treated differently by the White House, he might have excelled in his job. But it’s too late for that now. This is a sad joke on an honorable guy.

  • space.anonymous

    Mike is an impressive intellect and a forceful leader, but he had a sketchy vision for space exploration dumped on him, and he was put in the position of interpreting it and defending it as well as implementing it. You know, if he had been treated differently by the White House, he might have excelled in his job. But it’s too late for that now. This is a sad joke on an honorable guy.

    This is another myth that surely Mike Griffin will use after his demise to self justify his failure. Multiple people have illustrated that there was high level direction and support but Dr. Griffin ignored it all in order to build his big rocket, consequences be damned.

    This is exactly what killed the previous lunar/mars effort with the same guy running the architecture. Horowitz was just a useful tool for Griffin’s architecture who became and still is a true believer in something to keep full employment for his home state.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Multiple people have illustrated that there was high level direction and support

    With regard to the VSE, I find it hard to accept that there was significant “high level direction and support” from the White House or OSTP/OMB following the original announcement. Care to share? I don’t think that any of Griffin’s plans explicitly contradicted guidance from the White House or Congress, while you seem to be saying he made plans that did. But his implementation strategy certainly included a number of “features” (e.g lunar outposts) that were never part of the original vision, and certainly his deemphasis of science was not an explicit provision of the VSE. There is no question that, after announcing the VSE, the administration made little effort to promote it, leaving that job largely to NASA. (OK, sure, NASA was told that it had better “incorporate the solar system into our economic sphere”, but that directive was pretty hand-waving, and hardly actionable.) Coming up with publicly credible assertions of national priority for space exploration has never been a capability of the agency skill set. Griffin was tremendously relieved when the authorization bill came out being supportive of the VSE, no doubt because his own bosses had been pretty silent on the matter. His repeated references to that auth bill sounded a bit like “See, I told you so!”

    His fast-track ESAS was, in retrospect, a serious mistake, and we’re paying for that mistake now. He did make some other implementation mistakes overall, but that one was a doozy.

    Nevertheless, I’m inclined to believe that Griffin’s tenure might have looked quite different had the administration kept the flag flying high on space exploration.

    I am puzzled, though, by Mr. Gordon’s public defense of Mike Griffin. Is this intended to send a message to the transition team that, yes, it’s OK with me if you kept Mike on? Gordon wouldn’t need to send such a message unless he felt that the transition team was indeed considering doing just that. I’m not aware of any such signals from the transition team.

  • <emWith regard to the VSE, I find it hard to accept that there was significant “high level direction and support” from the White House or OSTP/OMB following the original announcement.

    There was significant direction, in the form of the Aldridge Commission Report, and Marburger’s urging to make the program relevant to opening up the solar system economically. Once Mike Griffin completely thumbed his nose at both, the support declined.

  • OK, sure, NASA was told that it had better “incorporate the solar system into our economic sphere”, but that directive was pretty hand-waving, and hardly actionable.

    Of course it was. He could have come up with a plan that was affordable and sustainable, that incorporated commercial enterprise as key elements, that continued R&T into ET resources, etc. Instead, he decided to redo Apollo, except “on steroids, and waste billions and years on unnecessary and flawed launch vehicle concepts, while investing nothing in actual exploration infrastructure.

  • I’m inclined to believe that Griffin’s tenure might have looked quite different had the administration kept the flag flying high on space exploration.

    Why is it that you think that this administration, of all possible administrations, could have kept the public’s interest in an intrinsically uninteresting concept (go back and do what we did forty years ago) by simply “flying the flag high” on it? Are we talking about the Bush administration here?

  • red

    I wonder how impressed the Obama administration is going to be with signatures like these (legitimate or not):

    George Deutsch
    Lisa Nowak
    Katie Holmes
    Frank Poole (from 2001?)
    David Bowman (from 2001?)

  • Al Fansome

    ANONYMOUS: Multiple people have illustrated that there was high level direction and support but Dr. Griffin ignored it all in order to build his big rocket, consequences be damned.

    LASSITER: Care to share? I don’t think that any of Griffin’s plans explicitly contradicted guidance from the White House or Congress, while you seem to be saying he made plans that did.

    Doug,

    The examples quoted — Aldridge Commission and Marburger’s back-to-back public speeches — are ONLY what was public. This is the tip of the iceberg — if you could see this, it is almost a certainty that a lot more went on that was not public.

    I have heard that the White House criticized the entire ESAS strategy, the ESAS approach, and Griffin’s pre-ordained ESAS conclusion.

    I have also heard that the White House (and the Pentagon) fought with NASA over their decision to not use the EELV.

    I am sure there is much more that I have not heard. This is all part of the same whole cloth.

    We do not have all the facts, so we can only guess what the whole cloth looks like. I hope that somebody, some day, will reveal a lot more about what happened. Much more importantly, I hope (and expect) those people are talking to the transition team right now.

    FWIW,

    - Al

  • Vladislaw

    anon.

    ““Under his [Griffin's] direction:
    •The Constellation Program was started, and is currently designing, developing and testing hardware to execute exploration missions”

    Not true. Assuming their designs can actually be closed, Ares I and the current version of Orion would only be capable of transporting astronauts to the ISS. NASA has no actual exploration hardware (lunar-capable Orion, Ares V, EDS, Altair) under development or testing. ”

    A long time ago I had asked about the cargo version of Orion. You had suggest that a cargo or ISS only type of Orion was not going to be built it was going to be more a lunar Orion.

    Now we see they are not even building a lunar Orion at all yet and can’t close on the weight issues?

  • Doug Lassiter

    Why is it that you think that this administration, of all possible administrations, could have kept the public’s interest in an intrinsically uninteresting concept (go back and do what we did forty years ago) by simply “flying the flag high” on it?

    Point noted. But VSE was when the flag was first pulled up the pole and, broadly speaking, there was some good stuff there that was more than just “going back to the Moon for the first time”. But that was it for the White House. They were done saluting that flag by the time it reached the finial. In order to continue to fly the flag high on space exploration, I agree that the administration could have insisted on a more palatable goal than what Mike envisioned, and perhaps even pointed out which flag Mike was supposed to be saluting. I never suggested that the White House was remiss by simply not doing Constellation foot kissing.

    Re Aldridge report, sure, the White House chartered this small and rather thinly supported group to come up with an implementation plan for VSE. That plan was reported to the White House, and was largely ignored by NASA. But that was NASA ignoring the Aldridge Commission, not NASA ignoring White House directives. Let’s be very clear about that. Did the White House present that report to Mike, and say “Mike, THOU SHALT DO THIS”? Nah. To the White House, the Aldridge Report was just an existence proof that such a Vision might be implementable. That meant something to Congress. I don’t recall that the White House, or even OSTP, ever even referred to that report after expressing their thanks for it.

    Re Marburger seeing gold mines and department stores in outer space, I’m sure that Griffin would claim that his approach was consistent with economic capitalization of the cosmos. How is it that going back to the Moon on steroids is not? So much for being actionable. But the view on that from Griffin’s office was somewhat different from the oval office across the Mall. Mike saw this as an architecture issue, not a policy issue, and as I said before solving national policy problems is not in the NASA skill set.

    Yes I too have “heard” rumors of White House displeasure with the human space flight posture of the agency. Is that rumored displeasure supposed to get the WH off the hook for not showing real leadership on what they rolled out as their own Vision? The point is not that the White House was displeased with NASA, but that they were (allegedly) very quietly displeased with NASA. So much for leadership.

    Look, I’m not trying to defend Mike Griffin. He’s made some mistakes. But the leadership vacuum that he was thrust into made his job vastly harder than it should have been. If I were being courted for NASA administrator right now, I’d sure be asking that kind of question, about whether an Obama vision for space is one that would be served by simply dumping it in my lap.

  • Re Marburger seeing gold mines and department stores in outer space, I’m sure that Griffin would claim that his approach was consistent with economic capitalization of the cosmos. How is it that going back to the Moon on steroids is not?

    Because it costs several billion dollars per mission, and it completely ignores private enterprise and competition. You can’t do anything economically with an infrastructure or attitude like that.

  • [...] administrator until after Christmas. Now that it’s two days after, first let us consider his mighty fan club, including (shockingly) his [...]

  • Doug Lassiter

    Ah, so Marburger’s point — that the nation should incorporate the solar system into our economic sphere is a goal affirmed by VSE — was actionable, you think, though he never referred to private enterprise when he talked about it. Oh. He did! In his 2006 Goddard talk he also said “A not unreasonable scenario is a phase of highly subsidized capital construction followed by market-driven industrial activity.” No doubt Mike Griffin was busily taking notes about what actions were considered “not unreasonable” by his bosses. Speaking of leadership vacuum.

    Private enterprise and competition has been a priority of Congress, not of the administration. Commercial opportunities were an afterthought in NSPD-31, though were highlighted to some extent after those opportunities were featured in the NASA authorization.

    Furthermore, Mike Griffin was directed to mount an extended human expedition to the Moon before 2020. That’s a hard line in the sand. It makes little sense for him to answer that directive with a tip ‘o the hat to private enterprise and tightly crossed fingers. Private enterprise means that they do it when they feel like doing it. Not when the President feels like doing it. And when the President felt like doing it was one of the few actionable items in his VSE.

    Mike thought he had the money to pull off a lunar return and, once there, he figured that we could develop infrastructure that would encourage the private sector to follow. That’s an attitude the private sector could respect as they hold their electrical plug and look for a socket. That’s an attitude that requires some significant upfront expense and perhaps even some steroids.

  • Karl Hallowell

    Doug, you wrote:

    It makes little sense for him to answer that directive with a tip ‘o the hat to private enterprise and tightly crossed fingers.

    It makes more sense than the Ares program. Ares I in particular is four years behind schedule and competes directly with the EELVs. Ares V originally was put off for at least two election cycles which is extremely stupid for a program that wants to deliver a heavy lift LV.

    Mike thought he had the money to pull off a lunar return and, once there, he figured that we could develop infrastructure that would encourage the private sector to follow.

    Ah, yes, it’s not poor design, it’s lack of funding. Here’s how I see it, Michael Griffin has the funding now to return to the Moon by 2020 using an EELV solution. Delta IV Heavy launches already despite not being part of the Constellation program. We could be testing the Orion capsule in space, right now, with manned launches in the near future. I still see the EELVs as being a faster (and cheaper) solution than Ares I.

  • Ah, so Marburger’s point — that the nation should incorporate the solar system into our economic sphere is a goal affirmed by VSE — was actionable, you think,

    Well, Doug, the earliest beginnings of this have already accomplished, or do you ignore the economic input from commercial comsats (most of which are located in a high energy orbit comparable to getting to the lunar surface or the Martian moons), civil and military applications satellites, and so on. It is a great, but undoubtedly “actionable,” step to start supplying some of the resources to support those industries from Earth’s moon or elsewhere. In fact, comsats have already used the resource of lunar gravity to recover from being short of launch energy; you could call these stunts, but from stunts valuable industries often grow. And, do not automated space reconnaissance and human spaceflight alike directly contribute to our economy through high-paying jobs and new skills, if nothing else?

    Mr. Marburger’s point should be the overarching goal of spaceflight. What use is space exploration (in the widest sense) if it does not someday contribute to our economy and thus become part of the economic sphere?

    “A not unreasonable scenario is a phase of highly subsidized capital construction followed by market-driven industrial activity.”

    You might recall that there are very few industries of any size on Earth that did not follow this path.

    Mike thought he had the money to pull off a lunar return and, once there, he figured that we could develop infrastructure that would encourage the private sector to follow.

    The truly sad thing in all of this is that he probably did have the money to pull that off — if he had tried to achieve the goals for the lowest possible cost and thus the greatest opportunity for commercial investment and return. He did not. That is the crime, if there has been one, not the goal of incorporating the Solar System into our economic sphere in and of itself.

    – Donald

  • anonymous.space

    “In anycase, here is a present –

    Anonymous.space, I hope you don’t mind, I borrowed what you wrote.”

    I don’t mind, but there is a more concise, professional, and hard-hitting counter-petition available here:

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/RemoveMikeGriffinNow/

    It’s a decent history of Griffin’s lack of performance versus the goals set out in the VSE, Ares I technical issues, and Griffin’s multiple embarrassing statements.

    Without access to Rebecca Griffin’s rolodex, I don’t anticipate that this counter-petition will exceed Horowitz’s. But anyone who agrees should sign the petition, even if they have to do so anonymously (and they should keep their comments civil). It’s important that the voices opposing NASA’s current human space flight path are heard, too.

    FWIW…

  • anonymous.space

    “In anycase, here is a present –

    Anonymous.space, I hope you don’t mind, I borrowed what you wrote.”

    I don’t mind, but there is a more concise, professional, and hard-hitting counter-petition available here (add http://www):

    .ipetitions.com/petition/RemoveMikeGriffinNow/

    It’s a decent history of Griffin’s lack of performance versus the goals set out in the VSE, Ares I technical issues, and Griffin’s multiple embarrassing statements.

    Without access to Rebecca Griffin’s rolodex, I don’t anticipate that this counter-petition will exceed Horowitz’s. But anyone who agrees should sign the petition, even if they have to do so anonymously (and they should keep their comments civil). It’s important that the voices opposing NASA’s current human space flight path are heard, too.

    FWIW…

  • Doug Lassiter

    It makes little sense for him to answer that directive with a tip ‘o the hat to private enterprise and tightly crossed fingers.

    It makes more sense than the Ares program. Ares I in particular is four years behind schedule and competes directly with the EELVs.

    Precisely right. I too see EELVs as quite possibly a faster and cheaper solution than Ares I. But the “private enterprise” we’re talking about is not a phrase that usually pertains to EELVs, which weren’t developed specifically to cash in on the solar system. We’re talking about private enterprise that wants to make money by developing systems that provide access to cis-lunar space in general, and the Moon specifically. The EELVs were developed for the Defense Department, and low cost certainly was never a requirement.

    Mr. Marburger’s point should be the overarching goal of spaceflight. What use is space exploration (in the widest sense) if it does not someday contribute to our economy and thus become part of the economic sphere?

    Goodness, I never suggested that Marburger’s goal was a bad one! Indeed, spaceflight should have something like that as an overarching goal. What I said was that this particular oft-quoted goal in and of itself wasn’t actionable. NASA’s role is as an implementer, but there are several levels of objectives that separate this overarching goal from nuts-and-bolts implementation, and the administration just wasn’t there to provide them, except in noting some as “not unreasonable scenarios”.

    Lunar gravity as a resource? That’s a new one. I’ll have to start thinking about ISRU as the tide comes in and out.

    The lesson I’m reaching for here is what an administration has to do to make space exploration succeed. Choosing a good NASA administrator is part of that need. But it isn’t all of it. Leadership starts at the top. Choosing a respected and accomplished engineer as a NASA administrator is a smart move IF those levels of objectives are responsibly filled in by the White House. The Aldridge Commission tried to do that, but the White House bound their report in parchment and gold leaf and put it up on the top shelf. So the whole tizzy about possible Griffin retention masks one fundamental fact — that if the incoming administration is committed to space exploration, it can’t pretend that NASA is necessarily responsible for driving space exploration policy. Far more significant is the mechanism by which the new administration will establish that policy and cultivate it.

  • Choosing a respected and accomplished engineer as a NASA administrator is a smart move IF those levels of objectives are responsibly filled in by the White House. The Aldridge Commission tried to do that, but the White House bound their report in parchment and gold leaf and put it up on the top shelf.

    If was Mike Griffin who did that, not the White House. Why do you persist in claiming that this was a White House decision?

    I agree that the administration is at fault for not riding herd on Griffin, but the screwups weren’t at their direction. I think that the White House hired Griffin with the expectation that he would heed the Aldridge Report. When he instead thumbed his nose at it, they probably were annoyed, but there were too many other more important issues to deal with to have to fire and hire yet another administrator.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Sorry, but if my employee thumbs her nose at an explicit directive I give her, and I don’t do anything about it, the resulting mess that occurs has to be a result of my decisions, not hers. At least that’s what my Board of Directors and the stockholders would say.

    I persist in claiming that the White House is largely at fault for what is increasingly looking like a failure in the NASA human exploration enterprise because the Vision for Space Exploration was a White House vision, and the implementation of it was ultimately under White House control. They took credit for it when it started, but didn’t lift a finger as things started to go off the rails.

    I could just as well ask why you persist in trying to protect the White House in all this. But there were indeed too many other more important issues to deal with. Yes, the White House was probably annoyed by Mike’s performance, but that annoyance doesn’t get ‘em off the hook. Let’s just say that VSE got derailed by those other more important issues. That’s probably how history will judge it.

    If the White House had just said “We’re going to give NASA a whole lot of money, and our vision is that NASA will figure out what to do with it and make it happen”, then Mike is guilty as charged. But that’s not quite what happened.

    Again, the KeepMike-DumpMike fracas is amusing, but it totally skirts the hard questions. I have to suggest that the space community is afraid to confront those hard questions. The lesson here is not what should happen to Mike Griffin.

    Onward and upward.

  • I could just as well ask why you persist in trying to protect the White House in all this.

    I’m not trying to “protect the White House.” As I already said in the post above (try reading for comprehension), I agree that it’s ultimately their fault. I disagree that the current program mess was their plan, as you continue, without evidence, to insist. It was Mike Griffin’s.

    If the White House had just said “We’re going to give NASA a whole lot of money, and our vision is that NASA will figure out what to do with it and make it happen”, then Mike is guilty as charged. But that’s not quite what happened.

    Sorry, but that is essentially what happened. Once Griffin was appointed, the administration basically went on auto-pilot when it came to space policy, because they had much more urgent issues to deal with.

  • red

    The Save Mike petition is going to get a lot more signatures soon. The controversy is now in the top Yahoo.com news stories with a link to the Save Mike petition. One of the counter petitions is mentioned, but there’s no link to it.

    news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081231/ap_on_re_us/nasa_chief

  • bdiego

    Griffin is intent on wasting taxpayer dollars on a drawn out effort to re-reach the moon. NASA should never have dropped its plans to visit Mars so it can make a redundant publicity run for the moon.

    Griffin has politicized NASA and dodges accountability as his inexplicable outbursts this year have shown. The bottom line is Griffin doesn’t understand that he works for America, not the other way around.

  • NASA should never have dropped its plans to visit Mars so it can make a redundant publicity run for the moon.

    This is the third blog where you’ve pasted this same nonsense (mine, NASAWatch, and here). NASA never had plans to visit Mars, and the lunar mission is national policy, not NASA policy, and it’s not a “publicity run.” This is simply stupid.

  • Doug Lassiter

    I could just as well ask why you persist in trying to protect the White House in all this.

    I’m not trying to “protect the White House.” As I already said in the post above</strong. (try reading for comprehension)

    I could just as well have asked. But I didn’t. For the reasons noted. Try reading for comprehension.

    Once Griffin was appointed, the administration basically went on auto-pilot when it came to space policy, because they had much more urgent issues to deal with.

    And, you’re saying, that’s why Griffin was at fault in all this. Because the administration “went on auto-pilot” because they had more urgent issues to deal with. Ahh, I see …

    One of those more urgent issues was, it seems, a new national space policy, that was issued by the White House in August 2006. That new national space policy explicitly covered all but the Vision (non-NASA civil and defense), deferring VSE related stuff to whatever NASA was doing. Autopilot indeed. They just turned their back on the Vision and didn’t want to deal with it. That is essentially what happened. Oh, they were too busy developing a new national space policy. Doh!

    In fact, if the intent of the Vision was to just heave billions at NASA, and let NASA figure out the implementation, why was the Aldridge Commission even constituted to report to the WH?

  • Doug Lassiter

    I could just as well ask why you persist in trying to protect the White House in all this.

    I’m not trying to “protect the White House.” As I already said in the post above. (try reading for comprehension)

    I could just as well have asked. But I didn’t. For the reasons noted. Try reading for comprehension.

    Once Griffin was appointed, the administration basically went on auto-pilot when it came to space policy, because they had much more urgent issues to deal with.

    And, you’re saying, that’s why Griffin was at fault in all this. Because the administration “went on auto-pilot” because they had more urgent issues to deal with. Ahh, I see …

    One of those more urgent issues was, it seems, a new national space policy, that was issued by the White House in August 2006. That new national space policy explicitly covered all but the Vision (non-NASA civil and defense), deferring VSE related stuff to whatever NASA was doing. Autopilot indeed. They just turned their back on the Vision and didn’t want to deal with it. That is essentially what happened. Oh, they were too busy developing a new national space policy. Doh!

    In fact, if the intent of the Vision was to just heave billions at NASA, and let NASA figure out the implementation, why was the Aldridge Commission even constituted to report to the WH?

  • And, you’re saying, that’s why Griffin was at fault in all this. Because the administration “went on auto-pilot” because they had more urgent issues to deal with. Ahh, I see …

    I’m saying that there is fault to go around. Is it your (absurd) claim that Mike Griffin is blameless?

    …if the intent of the Vision was to just heave billions at NASA, and let NASA figure out the implementation, why was the Aldridge Commission even constituted to report to the WH?

    I’m not saying that was the intent of the vision. The intent of the vision was for NASA to figure out the implementation using guidance from the Aldridge Commission. Which it did until Mike Griffin took over, at which point, the Aldridge Commission was completely ignored.

  • red

    On top of all of the pro and anti NASA Administrator petitions that have been discussed, here’s another one:

    http://www.petitiononline.com/griffout/petition.html

    This one is quite different from the others in that it focuses on Dr. Griffin’s NPR climate change comments and Earth monitoring reductions and opposes human spaceflight. I imagine that the signers would be a mostly or entirely different set of people since the reasons outlined in the petitions are so different.

    For whatever it’s worth (very little I suspect), right now there are 205 signatures on this one.

  • This is ridiculous. Mike Griffin didn’t have the good leadership in the White House, had to make tough decisions with what he was dealt because of that, and he did. I can live with those decisions and hope there is better leadership in the future, and I’m fine with keeping Griffin. I probably would have made the same ones he did. Think of the broader NASA goals. I think he’s unfairly cast in a bad light due to the situation. I think Congressman Gordon’s quote tells it all, “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.” He’s doing well in this crappy situation and would do great in a decent situation. Here’s to hoping the “decent situation” comes soon and that he isn’t let go unnecessarily.

  • [...] think that this is a reflection on his intelligence so much as his focus. There have been arguments over at Space Politics over how much culpability the administration has in the developing disaster of [...]

  • ellenlangsetmo

    increase nasa funding restore projects creat new ones like the solid state gravitic drive prepulsion system

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