The Associated Press published today an interview with former NASA administrator Mike Griffin, settling into his new position as a professor at the University of Alabama Huntsville. Some highlights, starting with what he thinks of the Review of US Human Space Flight Plans Committee (aka the Augustine committee):
“This review is not, in my judgment, necessary from a technical point of view,” he said. “But it does seem to be necessary if we are going to quiet some of the criticism of what NASA is doing, and if we are going to get the new administration on board.”
Griffin said he doesn’t think the administration’s review will mean any major changes for Constellation, “unless someone moves the goalpost” away from completing the space station, returning to the moon and then sending people to Mars.
But such studies can lead to funding uncertainties and a loss of momentum, he said, and NASA underwent a “seminal change” after the Columbia disaster in 2003, one that led to the current plan to astronauts back to the moon and on to Mars.
“The space agency had its change you can believe in,” said Griffin, referring to Obama’s campaign theme. “What it needs now is to be left alone to execute well.”
Griffin also offers praise for his nominated successor, Charles Bolden—at his own expense:
Griffin was pleased with Obama’s selection of former astronaut Charles Bolden as his successor. Griffin — who was sometimes faulted for what some described as a prickly personality — said Bolden has the experience, smarts and people skills for the job.
“It would be very hard to think more highly of him,” he said. “He’s way better with people than I am.”