Tue, Mar 02, 2010
NASA Administrator Reportedly Surprised At Anger Directed His
The Obama administration's desire
to hand the reigns of human space flight over to private companies
is running into stiff opposition on Capitol Hill, and NASA
Administrator Charles Bolden is finding his management style the
subject of some intense criticism as well.
Bolden made the rounds on The Hill last week, testifying before
House and Senate committees about the Obama administration's NASA
budget. The Wall Street Journal reports that lawmakers from both
sides of the aisle said Bolden was not assertive enough in crafting
the new budget. Senator David Vitter (R-LA) went so far as to
accuse Bolden of allowing his deputy, Lori Garver, to draft NASA's
new direction. Garver is an outspoken proponent of commercial space
ventures. "I don't think you were the originator or prime
architect," Sen. Vitter said to Bolden, who said he could not
refute the Senator's statement.
Lawmakers, of course, are trying to
protect thousands of aerospace jobs in their states or districts.
Some members of Congress feel the administration blindsided them
when it recommended outsourcing U.S. human spaceflight programs to
private companies. Some say Bolden (pictured, right) should
have taken a more active role in keeping both congressional leaders
and industry players more up-to-date about the potential changes.
Arizona Democrat Gabrielle Giffords chairs the Science subcommittee
that oversees NASA. She said last week that making such sweeping
changes "without consulting with members [of Congress], without
talking to the defense industry [and] without building a
coalition...is hard to stomach."
Not everyone on the commercial side is on the bandwagon, either.
The WSJ reports that Scaled Composites' Burt Rutan sent a letter to
some lawmakers saying he doesn't think private companies have the
incentive to take astronauts beyond low-earth orbit. Rutan pointed
out that there has not been a new manned spacecraft for 20
years, and that "the new plan almost guarantees another decade or
two of the same behavior."
There is some indication that there will compromise on the NASA
budget, as Congress has already adopted language that will keep
administrator Bolden from starting, modifying, or scrapping any
major program without getting specific approval from the
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