Some space policy commentary and news from around the web:
In a column in Monday’s Florida Today, reporter John Kelly warns of schedule pressures of adhering to a September 30, 2010 deadline for shuttle retirement, likening it to the schedule pressure for completing the station that existed prior to the Columbia accident. While this argument is not new, Kelly doesn’t come to the immediate conclusion, unlike some shuttle advocates, that this means that the shuttle’s life should be extended. “[S]omeone must determine if all the flights scheduled are needed,” he argues. If it’s not fiscally possible to keep the shuttle flying beyond its current retirement date, “then it needs to be made clear that missions at the tail end of the schedule are optional and will be canceled if they can’t be flown safely by then.”
Kelly also note the need by the White House to find a nominee for NASA administrator, an argument echoed elsewhere. For example, former CNN space correspondent Miles O’Brien takes it up in a blog post at True/Slant, a new news site. He argues that even with a replacement for acting administrator Chris Scolese in place, decisions on topics like the retirement of the shuttle and the shuttle/Constellation gap would be the same, despite the consternation of the “Space Cadet Corps” who have complained about a lack of a nominee. (One trusts that O’Brien recognizes the somewhat pejorative undertones of a phrase like “Space Cadet Corps”.) “In short, you could put a dog in the 9th floor corner office at 3rd and E Street, SW and things would not be much different – which is to say, not very pretty.”
Among those things that are taking place with only an acting administrator is the drafting of a detailed FY2010 budget proposal, Aviation Week reports. That budget is scheduled to be rolled out in early May, with no guarantee of even a nominee for administrator announced by then. The details of that budget proposal remain under tight wraps.
Of course, this isn’t stopping the “Space Cadet Corps” from continuing to press for a NASA administrator nominee. Sen. Bill Nelson has certainly loudly pushed for a nominee (and one in particular, former astronaut Charles Bolden), and the Orlando Sentinel more comments by Nelson made last week about the situation. “NASA is adrift because it doesn’t have a vigorous leader, appointed by the Obama administration, to take charge; someone who understands space flight, who understands management, who understands aeronautics,” Nelson claimed. “NASA does not have a leader as yet who understands how to motivate people and capture the spirit of the American people, which is that we are explorers and adventurers by nature.” More from Nelson:
I personally know our President is a space aficionado. We have talked about it hours on end. I know he wants us to have a vigorous space program. I know President Obama understands how to accomplish the very thing he wants to do with young people, in getting them educated and particularly educated in math and science and engineering. Look to history. Look at what happened in the Apollo program when young people by the thousands starting going into math and science and engineering because they were challenged by what we were doing in the cosmos. We can do that again if the President will give the full support to the space program and if he will put the right leader in NASA.