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Nov 30 2012

Change in the air for NASA czar?

Are changes afoot at NASA’s highest echelon? The Orlando Sentinel seems to think so and they have an idea or two why a change in leadership might happen:

Bolden’s fate could be significant for Kennedy Space Center, which is charting a new future — as, among other things, a launch base for commercial spacecraft — in the wake of the space shuttle’s 2011 retirement. Bolden has never fully embraced Obama’s plan to remake NASA through heavy investment in technology, nor the idea of increased reliance on commercial rockets to ferry crew and cargo to the space station. Instead, he has been more closely aligned with the development of a big, new government-built rocket capable of taking astronauts to the moon or Mars, a rocket that Congress — with the administration’s reluctant approval — ordered be built by 2017.

Hmmm. I’m not sure how that fits in with this move by (mostly) House Republicans to secure the Director’s job. Sorry if this sounds overly partisan, I’m skeptical anytime conservatives start waxing poetic about the need to preserve sound science and de-politicize anything. BUT — I know people who know more than me about it, and my colleague David Waldman from Daily Kos and I are scheming to get them on the air to explain it better next week.

The act calls for the NASA administrator to hold office for 10-year terms — inspired by the 10-year terms of the FBI director — as well as the establishment of an 11-member board of directors. Under the act, the president, speaker of the House and president pro tempore of the Senate would each appoint three members of the board and the Senate and House minority leaders would each select one.Duties of the board would include appointing candidates for administrator, deputy administrator and chief financial officer, along with holding quarterly meetings to govern the administration. The board also would be tasked with submitting yearly reports assessing infrastructure, capabilities and the workforce. Once every four years, the board members — who serve three-year terms — would be required to submit a review of the space program and layout plans for the future to the president and Congress.

Two other House Republicans gave the act their blessing: Wisconsin Rep. James Sensenbrenner and Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, who is in line to become the next chair of the House Science Space and Technology Committee.

 

4 comments

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  1. 1
    sheila

    NASA produces terabytes of data every day on the Earth’s climate. Very inconvenient for some people.

    Gosh, I can’t imagine why the Koch brothers and Exxon want to chose NASA’s administrator and directors.

  2. 2
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ ^ sheila : I think the outcry would be a bit much if they sacked Jim Hansen somehow..

  3. 3
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Don’t imagine the Koch brothers and /or Exxon have much sway over NASA either.

    Thankfully.

  4. 4
    sheila

    I don’t think they currently have much sway, or NASA wouldn’t be publishing the data they publish. But unless I’ve misunderstood (perfectly possible of course), it wounds like an attempt to give politicians move power over the director. And some of those politicians are for sale.

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