Senator Nelson is urging Barack Obama to keep Mike Griffin on:
“He called Lori Garver and said that until they had a surefire choice, they should continue with Griffin. And he thinks Griffin is doing a good job,” said Bryan Gulley, a Nelson spokesman. Gulley would not say who Nelson would support if or when Obama picks a new NASA administrator.
Well, obviously, you don’t want to leave the post vacant, or put in a loser. But it should be a high priority to find a good replacement for him, not to mention come up with a new policy (the two will no doubt go together). The Ares/Orion debacle is entirely Mike Griffin’s baby at this point. I know that if I were named the new administrator, I’d can Ares, ramp up COTS and COTS D, and get started on R&T, and then (not much later) RDT&E for a propellant depot, and let ULA, SpaceX and others worry about earth to orbit. With a prop depot, the weight margins on Orion and Altair become essentially unlimited, so I’d start designs over from there.
But for many reasons, I’m not going to be named administrator. I just hope that whoever is has their head screwed on right.
Oh, and I should also add (as I commented over at Bobby Block’s site) that people who should know better (like Senators who have actually flown in space) seem to continue to ignore the reality that extending Shuttle doesn’t give us independence from the Russians, because the Shuttle can’t act as an ISS lifeboat. All it does is cost billions more while putting crew at high risk. Until they get Dragon or Orion, or something else, we are going to have to continue buying Soyuz if we want to continue to have US astronauts at ISS.
[Saturday morning update]
There’s more discussion on this topic over at Space Politics.