The Syracuse Post-Standard published an interview Monday with former NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe that touched upon a variety of issues, including his thoughts about NASA. O’Keefe reflected on the highs (landing Spirit and Opportunity on Mars) and lows (the Columbia accident) during his three-year tenure at the agency. O’Keefe then fielded a question about NASA’s current status and its future somewhat gingerly:
Q: What’s your view on what’s happening at NASA today? How do you see the agency’s future?
A: The most diplomatic way to say this is the president is still defining what the mission of the agency should be. Right now, it’s combination of things that doesn’t really resonate with trying to describe it in a bumper sticker or a sound bite. They’re pursuing many different paths and I’m hoping that will clarify itself in the next term, whether that’s (President Obama’s) or someone else’s.
Also, on broader policy issues, O’Keefe warned of “a real wreck” coming on January 1 with sequestration, the debt limit, and other looming budget issues. “This is unbelievable,” he said of the situation. “To have all of them together is nitro in a bottle.”