Congress, NASA, White House

More developments in the quest for a NASA administrator

Florida Today reports that a group of House members, the NASA House Action Team, has written to the White House to request that the president announce a NASA administrator as soon as possible. The letter appears similar to the one Congressman Bill Posey sent last week; Posey is also a member of the NASA House Action Team.

In another development reported in the article, a spokesman for Sen. Bill Nelson says that the White House has informed the senator, who chairs the space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, that an announcement of a nominee “will be coming very soon, perhaps in a matter of days.” That’s similar to what President Obama said himself last week, when he told the Orlando Sentinel that he planned to select someone “soon”, without being more specific about the timeframe.

While we don’t know who among the several people whose names have been linked to the job, we know one person who definitely won’t get the job: the administration plans to name Scott Gration as a a special envoy to Sudan today. Gration, of course, was two months ago the can’t-miss gonna-be-picked-any-day-now choice for the NASA administrator job whose prospects then faded, either because of opposition from Sen. Nelson or other issues. (Although given Gration’s background, the envoy position is perhaps a better fit that the top NASA job.) That would seem to leave three people left for the job: Steve Isakowitz, reportedly “taken down” by Nelson; Charles Bolden, Nelson’s apparent favorite; and Lester Lyles, who did not seem that enthused about the job in comments reported by Space News in its print edition this week. Unless, of course, there’s a unknown dark horse candidate out there…

20 comments to More developments in the quest for a NASA administrator

  • Major Tom

    NASAWatch also reports that former astronaut Mae Jemison is now the White House frontrunner.


  • Just what we need, another astronaut.

  • After about 20 minutes of non-stop googling I can’t find any policy statements by her or any indication she’s run something as large as a Federal agency.

  • SpaceMan

    I wonder how long it will be before we hear that Scooby-Do is the odds on favorite to be NASA Administrator.

  • Not only another astronaut, but one who did a guest cameo on ST:Next Gen.

    We won’t need any damn dirty stinkin’ money in the future folks..


    Clearly a good, honorable, woman who is a role model to many.

    I hope (and expect) that the administration will focus on hard qualifications.

    I see zero evidence that she has managed an organization larger than her small non-profit. Let alone an organization that has 18,000 people.

    I somehow doubt that she will even want the job. This smells like the suggestion of somebody who has not talked Jemison, and who does not understand the huge challenges in front of the next Administrator.

    I suspect that a little due diligence will weed her out.


  • I suspect that a little due diligence will weed her out.

    Like it weeded out Chas Freeman?

  • Chris sangstein

    This is a joke right – is this the best Obama can find for NASA. No way – this would be an insult to the country. It’s being reported that she once assaulted a police officer!!!! Bring back Mike Griffin please

  • Drew

    Charles Freeman weeded himself out. He was inappropriate for Intelligence, and he withdrew himself. QED, he was a pretty smart guy to recognize his inappropriateness, and the Obama administration should take some credit for picking him! Well, not a lot …

    I too am appalled at the rumor about Mae Jemison. I have no particular argument against her, except her lack of technical, managerial, and political experience. As suggested elsewhere, it’s quite possible that her name was raised as “cover” for Bolden. As in, anyone looks good after that.

  • Charles Freeman weeded himself out. He was inappropriate for Intelligence, and he withdrew himself,

    Not before he was nominated. The administration has never explained how that happened…

  • sc220

    Two things that concern me about Bolden. One is that he’s of the narrow mindset that the only thing that’s important about the space program is crewed exploration. I may be jumping to conclusions here, but since he has a long history with human spaceflight, it’s possible that he’d have this view.

    The other is his association with ATK. How seriously will he “look under the hood” with this seeming conflict of interest? Besides retirement of the Shuttle, asking the tough questions about Ares and the ESAS architecture is the most important task for the new Administrator.

  • Charles In Houston

    Charlie Bolden would be a disaster as Administrator – it would allow Yoda (George Abbey) to slink back onto Bldg 1’s ninth floor. We would be back to the days of Machiavellian scheming.

  • sc220

    Charlie Bolden would be a disaster as Administrator – it would allow Yoda (George Abbey) to slink back onto Bldg 1’s ninth floor.

    This is an interesting comment, since we all know that Abbey is not a fan of Ares or ESAS.

  • vulture4

    How about the suggestion made during the campaign that maybe NASA should do work of practical value? Given the state of the economy, is this at least worth a thought? Or should we borrow money from China to send Americans to the moon before China?

  • lostinspace

    I have at least gotten the impression that Bolden may be a good manager with a clear vision. He might be the best choice of the available candidates.

  • Brian Koester

    A dark horse? I note that Dr. Alan Stern wikipedia page has a new entry that uses this exact same language as being a possible candidate for the position of NASA Administrator.

    Maybe we will all be suprised.

    Here are two links that mention Dr. Stern from Universetoday &

  • Repugnant Republican

    Bring back Mike Griffin

    You’re right, this whole walking upright thing is way overrated. We should right back to knuckle draggin with the republicans, they’ve left us with such a wonderful legacy.

  • anon-y-mous

    If certain “public servants” keep torpedoing good candidates who don’t happen to toe the Shuttle workforce line, Obama should just punt on naming a NASA administrator. Let them go through 2010-2011 under an acting administrator. Let the shuttle wind itself down, let Ares keep running around like a chicken with its head cut off. By the time 2011 rolls around, most of the shuttle workforce will have moved on, possibly to other states.


  • Doug Lassiter

    Now that John Holdren has been confirmed as OSTP Director, one might expect some action on nominating a NASA administrator. I suspect that the Obama administration sees NASA as working especially closely with OSTP, especially in that Earth science and climate change research will be taking a new priority in the agency. So until they had a confirmed director for OSTP, nailing down a name for NASA Administrator might have been hard to do.

    Now, it’s interesting. As of last spring, John Marburger told House Commerce that, with respect to NASA, “probably the highest priority for space operations for this country should be Earth observations,” though his own leadership on that front was decidedly mixed. That OSTP-NASA connection will be a lot tighter in the years ahead, to the extent that NASA is seen as a part of the solution to a problem that is an administration science and technology priority.

  • […] candidate list for the new NASA Administrator (previous being Mike Griffin, who is since working on starting GriffinSpace, LLC) under President […]

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