May 15, 2009 | 4
Former astronaut and decorated military man Charles Bolden is reportedly atop the list to head NASA, an agency nearing four months without an administrator. NBC and the Wall Street Journal report that Bolden, 62, will head to the White House Monday to meet with President Barack Obama and will likely be nominated to lead the space agency.
Bolden, who retired from military service in 2003 as a major general in the U.S. Marine Corps, would be the first African-American to run NASA.
Bolden piloted or commanded four space shuttle missions between 1986 and 1994, including the 1990 Discovery mission that put the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit. Hubble is currently undergoing its final scheduled tune-up at the hands of astronauts on board space shuttle Atlantis.
Apr 16, 2009 | 3
Is NASA flying blind? Former NASA administrator Michael Griffin, who served under President George W. Bush and resigned when President Barack Obama took office, has taken a professorship at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Griffin will teach mechanical and aerospace engineering in Huntsville, a hub of aerospace activity that is home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Meanwhile the space agency remains leaderless nearly three months after Griffin's resignation, with associate administrator Christopher Scolese acting as agency chief in an interim capacity.
In an editorial last week, the Orlando Sentinel called for the White House to appoint an administrator for the space agency. "NASA badly needs a leader and a plan," the op-ed said. "The future of the U.S. space program, billions of dollars, and thousands of jobs, depend on it."
Jan 14, 2009 | 2
Retired Air Force major general Scott Gration has been asked to head NASA under President-elect Barack Obama, Space News and AFP are reporting. The news agencies each cite an unnamed source in pointing to Gration, an early Obama supporter who stumped for the candidate and gave military cred to the campaign.
Gration, who retired from the Air Force in 2006, voted for George W. Bush in the 2000 election, according to a 2007 Newsweek profile of him. He was reportedly won over by Sen. Obama during a 2006 congressional delegation to Africa; Gration was raised by missionary parents in the Congo. His stature in the campaign became such that he was selected to speak at the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August, where he touted Obama's leadership qualities.
Jan 7, 2009
News outlets are reporting that former NASA astronaut Charles Bolden is among top candidates to head the space agency under President-elect Barack Obama. If tapped, Bolden, 62, would be the first African-American to serve as NASA administrator.
As an astronaut from 1980 to 1994, Bolden flew into space four times, piloting two shuttle missions and commanding two more, according to his official NASA bio. He left the agency to return to the military, having previously served in Vietnam and as a naval test pilot, and rose to the rank of major general in the U.S. Marine Corps before retiring in 2003. In 2002, Bolden was nominated to serve as NASA's deputy administrator, but the White House withdrew his name after, the Houston Chronicle reports, "the Pentagon objected to civilian agencies drafting high-ranking officers during wartime." At the time, the U.S. was at war in Afghanistan.
Jan 5, 2009 | 6
President-elect Barack Obama may put NASA to work with the Defense Department to better compete in space.
Unidentified sources tell Bloomberg News that Obama may tap Defense rockets for space travel because they may be cheaper and available before NASA's new Orion crew capsule and boosters, which won't be ready until 2015. The current shuttle fleet is scheduled to be retired next year, though some, such as the Center for American Progress (CAP), have advocated extending their use until a replacement is ready.
Obama has alluded to using Defense money for the space program, and has said he would like to close the five-year gap between the current fleet's retirement and the completion of Orion. Pentagon boosters have been suggested as a way to speed up the Orion program to more quickly replace the shuttle — and possibly avoid the cost of developing a new booster.
Dec 12, 2008 | 7
NASA Administrator Michael Griffin yesterday denied a newspaper report that he had stonewalled members of President-elect Barack Obama's transition team seeking info on operations at his agency. The Orlando Sentinel, quoting anonymous sources, reported Wednesday that Griffin had failed to cooperate with Obama aides and had instructed civilian space contractors to support the agency's current direction and refrain from discussing other options when contacted by the transition team. Griffin in a written statement said that he was "appalled by any accusations of intimidation" and that he encourages "a free and open exchange of information with the contractor community."
At issue is the future of the planned upgrade to the space shuttle, the Constellation program, which Griffin has been shepherding toward its scheduled 2015 debut. The problem is that the space shuttle is due to be retired in 2010, leaving at least a five-year gap in the U.S.'s ability to independently send astronauts into space, a prospect that some lawmakers, including Republican Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (who represents Houston, a hub for the space industry), find unacceptable.
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