Steve Cook has made his departure official.
Rocketman called this a few days ago, and as I said in comments on another post, Dynetics‘ loss is Marshall’s gain. Guess he’ll have to be “the next von Braun” in the private sector (to the degree that a government cost-plus contractor is the private sector).
[Late morning update]
Man, the comments over at NASA Watch are brutal. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
[Early afternoon update]
Sorry, but you can’t take my investment advice in the post title. I guess it’s not publicly traded. Though if you’re a shareholder/employee, you could look for greener pastures, I guess.
[Update a few minutes later]
I think that this is the most definitive evidence so far that Ares is dead. What (if anything) will replace it is unknown, but I for one do not mourn it. I only mourn the lost years and billions that were wasted on it.
[Saturday afternoon update]
You know, if I were working Ares, my morale would be at rock bottom right now, and it wouldn’t be helped by either Cook’s memo, or Jeff Hanley’s. Notice that in Cook’s memo, here’s all he says about why he’s leaving now:
I have been honored and privileged to work with the best-of-the-best in the aerospace industry over the past 19 years. NASA has graciously allowed me to pursue dreams of exploration that I have had since my passion was ignited watching Apollo 17 land on the moon. That said, my professional goal has long been to spend the first half of my career in public service and the later half in the private sector. On September 14, I will begin phase 2 of my career, as Director of Space Technologies at Dynetics in Huntsville, AL. I look forward to helping the Dynetics team take on the challenges associated with space flight.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t there a significant double-dip pension benefit if he’d made it to twenty years? Why leave now? Even assuming that he’s being honest about his “professional goal,” why not stick it out for a few more months?
It seems pretty obvious to me he’s reading the writing on the wall, and getting out while the getting is good, being the second rat down the lines (after Horowitz). And then we have Hanley:
To those who wish to ‘read something into’ Steve’s departure, I say this… The substance of Ares is dependent on no specific individual. It is what the integrated team HAS accomplished and WILL accomplish that matters. And it is in your hands – it remains true that the very BEST expression of the true heart of the Ares team will be the fortitude required to honor Steve’s contribution and excel beyond it.
He must think they’re stupid. This is a complete non-sequitur. Those who are “reading something into” Steve’s departure aren’t reading into it that the program isn’t going to be able to succeed without him. If they’re smart, they’re reading into it the same thing that I am — that the program is in its death throes, with or without him, and he didn’t want to be around when it happened. This was a completely pointless paragraph.
I would have had much more respect for him if he’d just thanked Cook for his service, and left it at that, or even said something like “I understand that many of you are justly concerned with the future of the program. We all understand that there may be changes coming soon, perhaps major, over which we no longer have any control. Whatever happens, you can all take pride in the work that you’ve done to make this program a success, and we will strive to ensure that your hard and excellent work is recognized in future activities, whatever they may be.” But that would be too honest for NASA management.