Thursday, May 07, 2009

Obama Orders Up Sweeping Review Of NASA

The Obama Administration ordered up a sweeping review of NASA today that could lead to significant changes to the agency's plans to send American astronauts to the moon by 2020.

Among the issues up for review: the architecture former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin put in place in 2005, which led to the ongoing development of Ares I rockets and Orion spacecraft while laying out plans for the Ares V heavy-lift rocket and the Altair lunar lander.

"The President's goal is to ensure that these programs remain on a strong and stable footing well into the 21st Century, and this review will be crucial to meeting that goal." said John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

A NASA news conference will be webcast live here in The Flame Trench at 2:30 p.m. Acting NASA Administrator Christopher Scolese will discuss the 2010 NASA budget. Click the NASA TV box on the righthand side of this page to launch our NASA TV viewer and live coverage. And be sure to refresh this page for updates.

As previously reported in The Flame Trench as well as Florida Today print editions, former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine, who led a similar review of NASA programs in 1990, will head up the review. A panel of experts will be named in the near future.

Click HERE for a joint news release from the White House and NASA.

Click HERE for a letter Holdren sent today to Acting NASA Administrator Christopher Scolese ordering up the review.

In a briefing with reporters attended by Eun Kyung Kim of Gannett News Service in Washington, D.C., Holdren said the review will "provide a fresh look at the U.S. human spaceflight program and the options that we have available to us going forward to confront a mix of challenges and opportunities that we face."

He said the panel will move and report quickly.

"It's going to report back in time to effect budget decisions that will be made in the August time frame," he said.

According to the joint White House-NASA news release:

"The review panel will assess a number of architecture options, taking into account such objectives as: 1) expediting a new U.S. capability to support use of the International Space Station; 2) supporting missions to the Moon and other destinations beyond low Earth orbit; 3) stimulating commercial space flight capabilities; and 4) fitting within the current budget profile for NASA exploration activities.

"Among the parameters to be considered in the course of its review are crew and mission safety, life-cycle costs, development time, national space industrial base impacts, potential to spur innovation and encourage competition, and the implications and impacts of transitioning from current human space flight systems.

"The review will consider the appropriate amounts of R&D and complementary robotic activity necessary to support various human space flight activities, as well as the capabilities that are likely to be enabled by each of the potential architectures under consideration. It will also explore options for extending International Space Station operations beyond 2016."

Augustine chaired a 1990 review of NASA programs that recommended NASA programs be refocused on science. The report was ordered up by then-Vice President Dan Quayle at a time when NASA was reeling from the discovery of the Hubble Space Telescope's misshappen mirror and fuel leaks that grounded NASA's shuttle fleet.

The Augustine committee's 1991 report proposed that NASA adopt a "pay-as-you-go" approach to President George H. W. Bush's vision of putting American astronauts on Mars by 2019. NASA prior to that was following an open-ended decades-long approach to exploring the moon and then Mars.

The committee also recommended NASA consolidate its exploration efforts under a single "Office of Exploration" that would be headed by an Associate Administrator for Exploration.

Ironically, NASA hired Michael Griffin from the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization to head the office. Griffin played a key role in designing the architecture that the new Augustine Committee will review.

President George W. Bush nominated Griffin as NASA Administrator in April 2005. Griffin wanted to stay on as NASA Administrator resigned as a matter of course on Jan. 20, the day Obama was inaugurated.

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge and save the Associated Press photo of shuttle Discovery roaring off its Kennedy Space Center launch pad March 15 en route to the International Space Station.


Anonymous said...

Space Program = Glorified Welfare Program.

Anonymous said...

Huh Anonymous?

Folks in the program work their buns off and we're pressing out there... Was the Columbus trip to the America's a welfare program???

Anonymous said...

It was a glorified welfare program......


By providing numerous:

*Technological Advancements,
*Scientific Breakthroughs,
*International Cooperation,
*Meteorological understanding of weather patterns,
*Climate studies,
*Safety design improvements in all vehicles,
*Medical Equipment Development,

and a better understanding of who we are, what we can accomplish and where we are going all for the.........

WELFARE of the human race.


Anonymous said...

All those that voted for Republicans who spent all our Space Exploration Dollars looking for WMD in Iraq now want Democrat Obama to pull a rabbit out of his hat and provide a give-away to them.

These people did not vote for Obama and call him a Socialist yet want him to provide a living for them in a Glorified Social Welfare Program.

Ronald Reagan turned the NASA into a Weapons System and that is when we stopped going to the moon.

Republicans know that Defense Contractors can make more money building things that kill people than exploring space. Plus you have to have smart people in charge to manage going to the Moon or Mars.

Republicans always want a hand-out.

NRAbenefactor said...

A man who signs a several-thousand page borrow-tax-and-blow budget that no one has read, orders a "sweeping review" of NASA. Of course.