The current and former administrators of NASA were both in Huntsville, Alabama, on Friday, with widely varying assessments of the agency’s human spaceflight programs. Appearing on a panel hosted by Huntsville mayor Tommy Battle on Friday afternoon, former NASA administrator Mike Griffin claimed that the current White House “has done everything it could to oppose human spaceflight”, in the words of the Huntsville Times. Griffin said that NASA should not expect to be given the go-ahead to work on a heavy-lift vehicle until after the Obama Administration leaves office, meaning that supporters of that vehicle in industry need to “continue with the building blocks so that when someone does say, ‘I want the United States to be on the frontier,’ we’re not starting from scratch.”
Current NASA administrator Charles Bolden spoke at a separate event in Huntsville on Friday night and had a brighter assessment of the future. “Despite what you may have heard,” Bolden said, according to a separate Huntsville Times article, “human spaceflight is not ending.” Bolden, who turned 65 last week, added that he believes “humans will walk on another planet in his lifetime.” As President Obama said in his Kennedy Space Center speech last year that he expected a human landing on Mars after a Mars orbital mission in the mid-2030s, it appears Bolden plans to be around well into his 90s.