While the White House hasn’t announced a pick for NASA administrator, space enthusiasts can look on the bright side: President Obama did spend about a half-hour talking about space with ISS and shuttle astronauts, peppering them with questions ranging from their work installing solar panels on the station to how they check email. The issue of who might—someday—be running NASA did not come up, but one wonders whether people like Senators Bill Nelson and Kay Bailey Hutchison or Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas, who were all present at the White House for the call, brought up the issue with the president at some point before or after the call.
Meanwhile, as NASA make more effort to engage the public, you had to wonder when something like go wrong. And it appeared to do just that when Stephen Colbert beat out a pre-selected choice of names for Node 3 of the ISS in an online poll, thanks to a write-in effort by fans of “The Colbert Report”. NASA says the poll is not binding, but that hasn’t stopped Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), who sits on the appropriations subcommittee whose jurisdiction includes NASA, from issuing a press release calling for NASA to honor the results of the poll even if Colbert’s campaign “was a bit over the top”. One assumes that Rep. Fattah’s tongue is at least partially wedged in his cheek—he appeared on “The Colbert Report” in 2006—but it does lead one to wonder if other members of Congress will pay closer attention to NASA’s participatory efforts.