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Griffin Speaks

Keith Cowing has a quick take on Mike Griffin's confirmation testimony before the Senate this morning. I'll be interested to see the full transcript, but there's some interesting stuff here for now.

I've rarely heard such bi-partisan praise for any nominee, for any position. This will be one NASA administrator that at least begins the job with powerful support from both the White House and the Hill, and that can't hurt. Senator Stevens said that he sees it as vital, almost an emergency, to get him into place as soon as possible. We'll see how long this era of good feeling lasts, because he's got some tough decisions ahead, that are certain to alienate at least some constituencies.

He's clearly a man in a hurry. He wants to get CEV up before 2014, to avoid (or at least minimize) the gap in (government) human spaceflight beginning with the end of the Shuttle. He also sounds like he's inclined to reverse O'Keefe, and do the Hubble servicing mission. He's had to backpedal on his previous criticism of the ISS, showing that he's no fool politically. Who knows what he'll do about aeronautics?--it doesn't sound like he's given it much, if any, thought.

I'd say overall that he has a very ambitious agenda (and this testimony confirms my take a couple weeks ago). He definitely wants to do it faster and better, and since he's not likely to get much more budget, he's going to have to figure out how to square the circle and do it cheaper as well. I'm sure he believes that he can do it. We'll have at least three and a half years to find out if he's right.

[Update at 2:30 PM EDT]

His prepared statement is up now.

I'm always a little leery of using the Columbus analogy, because I think it's flawed in many ways, but I suspect that it will go over well, regardless. This bit is worth repeating, because we tend to think of the 1960s only in terms of Apollo:

NASA in the Apollo Era was hardly the "single mission agency" in the simplified view that is often heard today. In addition to the manned spaceflight development programs of the time, NASA executed dozens of Explorer-class missions, a dozen Pioneer missions (including Pioneer 10 and 11 to Jupiter and Saturn), Ranger 1-9, Surveyor 1-7, Mariner 1-10, the Orbiting Solar Observatory, Orbiting Geophysical Observatory, and Orbiting Astronomical Observatory series, and paid for most of the Viking missions to Mars, which were launched in 1975. Communications satellite development was initiated with Telstar and Early Bird, while the TIROS, NIMBUS, and ESSA series did the same for weather satellites. In addition to these robotic science and technology development missions, NASA also executed 199 X-15 flights (which still hold the speed record for piloted flight within the atmosphere), and accomplished an otherwise vigorous program of aeronautics development, including the liftingbody research which enabled the development of the Space Shuttle.

Before he died, former administrator Tom Paine once told me that during Apollo, NASA did a lot of things that they didn't even realize that they were doing, there was so much going on. But there was a sense of urgency then, and I'm not sure that stories about the far-sightedness of Isabella can restore it.

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 12, 2005 09:27 AM
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Well, you know, pretty soon, we'll all be speaking Spanish as well!

Posted by Astrosmith at April 12, 2005 03:22 PM


WTF? what does speaking Spanish have to do with the new NASA admin?

Posted by at April 12, 2005 04:04 PM

OK, well, Griffin spoke of Queen Isabella, and Columbus, and how Spain's investment in exploration at the same time they were fighting a war against the Moors paid off big time for them. He was trying to say that in the same way, we're fighting Islamists today and need to also fund space exploration.

I'm just saying that with the current state of our borders, pretty soon the U.S. will be speaking Spanish just like Ferdinand and Isabella did. By 2050, "hispanics" will be over 50% of the American population. That's in quotes because hispanics are not actually a monolithic group.

Good speech, but talking highly of Columbus in front of the liberal Democrats was not a very good move.

Posted by Astrosmith at April 12, 2005 10:57 PM

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