Author Topic: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?  (Read 109302 times)

Online zubenelgenubi

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1133
  • Arc to Arcturus, then Spike to Spica
  • Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Liked: 239
  • Likes Given: 694
Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« on: 02/26/2016 06:34 PM »
Assuming Charlie Bolden serves as NASA Administrator for the remainder of the President's term, who would you suggest as his successor?

Of course, this nomination is (somewhat) dependent on who wins the presidential election.

I started thinking about this today after some comments in this thread (House Hearing on Space Leadership Preservation Act) suggesting that Mike Griffin may be angling to serve again as NASA Administrator.  (This is assuming a Republican victory?)

Respectfully,
Zubenelgenubi
« Last Edit: 02/26/2016 06:35 PM by zubenelgenubi »
Support your local planetarium!

Offline eric z

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 244
  • Liked: 117
  • Likes Given: 315
Re: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« Reply #1 on: 02/26/2016 07:24 PM »
 Since everybody got so excited when I defended Dr. Griffin yesterday [at least his character; like I said I have no competence to technically evaluate anything], obviously that would start a riot. NASA needs strong clear leadership now, especially if we want to get moving outward again. They need to be fully be on-board, not someone doing a valiant job making the best of a bad situation. The public needs a face they recognize:so maybe one of the Kelly twins [I hope they go into politics!], whoa, Col.Collins maybe? I don't object at all to an astronaut getting the top job; and then a strong managerial-type with good congressional skills, maybe a Ms. Shotwell? It's funny, I knew people at HQ who thought that O'Keefe was great and Goldin awful, and vice-versa. I think, as a whole NASA has been blessed with good leadership, but it has to be someone willing to take a dive if she/he thinks things on the DC-front are going south.
« Last Edit: 02/26/2016 07:50 PM by eric z »

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 731
  • Liked: 59
  • Likes Given: 3
Re: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« Reply #2 on: 02/26/2016 07:28 PM »
Options worth considering

Stu Witt - Former head of Mojave Spaceport
Pete Worden - Former head of Ames
Lori Garver (awaiting head explosions on this one)
Patti Grace Smith (former head of AST)
Micheal Lopez-Alegria (former President of CSF, former astronaut)
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline UberNobody

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 121
  • Liked: 58
  • Likes Given: 47
Re: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« Reply #3 on: 02/26/2016 07:45 PM »
Why would heads explode thinking about Lori Garver?  I don't know too much about her, but she seems to understand the value of commercial partners and fixed price contracts.

Online Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3409
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 2169
  • Likes Given: 2675
Re: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« Reply #4 on: 02/26/2016 08:11 PM »
NASA needs strong clear leadership now, especially if we want to get moving outward again.

It's important to understand what the responsibilities of the NASA Administrator are - what they really do, versus what it is imagined they do.  From the NASA HQ website:

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -
3.2.1 NASA Administrator
The Administrator is the Agency's highest level decisionmaker, providing clarity to the Agency's vision and serving as the source of internal leadership to achieve NASA's mission. The Administrator aligns the strategic and policy direction of NASA with the interests and requirements of the Agency's stakeholders and constituent groups.

The Administrator and immediate senior staff provide overall strategic direction and policies for the organization and establish the Agency's relative priorities, associated budget guidelines, and performance assessment. Senior staff officials within the Office of the Administrator include the Deputy Administrator, Associate Deputy Administrator, Associate Deputy Administrator (Technical), Chief Engineer, Chief Information Officer, Chief Scientist, and the Chief Technologist.

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

As far as how well Bolden has been doing versus his predecessor Griffin, one measure would be how well the programs at NASA are being managed.  One way to see that is to view the GAO report "Assessments of Selected Large-Scale Projects".

On page 10 of the report is a chart called "NASA’s Portfolio Maintains Low Cost and Schedule Growth with the Addition of Five Projects Lessening the Effect of Poor Performance in Less Expensive Projects" from 2009 (when Bolden took over) to 2015.  One key takeaway is that development cost growth in percentage, excluding the James Webb Space Telescope, is currently 2.4%, but was 12% when Bolden took over from Griffin.

So from the standpoint of managing programs, which is one indication of "strong clear leadership", Bolden has a better record.

Unless you are implying that the NASA Administrator is supposed to come up with a compelling reason for why NASA should send people out into space.  If so, I would say that if we haven't been able to clearly articulate such a reason in the 40 years since Apollo, that it is not any of the NASA Administrators fault, but the nature of the situation we face today - space is very expensive and requires a long investment for an unknown value to U.S. Taxpayers.

Until it is the goal of the U.S. Government to expand humanity out into space - for whatever reason - every plan that wants to send government employees beyond LEO is going to be a fiscal challenge.  So let's not blame NASA Administrators for that.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Hauerg

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 685
  • Berndorf, Austria
  • Liked: 285
  • Likes Given: 1046
Re: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« Reply #5 on: 02/26/2016 08:15 PM »
Lori.

Offline jongoff

  • Recovering Rocket Plumber/Space Entrepreneur
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6037
  • Lafayette/Broomfield, CO
  • Liked: 2014
  • Likes Given: 689
Re: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« Reply #6 on: 02/26/2016 08:44 PM »
Steve Isakowitz was another good suggestion from last time around (currently at VG).
Maybe someone with DARPA experience?
Maybe someone from the Augustine Committee? Jeff Greason or Leroy Chiao? They seemed to have a good handle on the issues that NASA and Congress continue to ignore.

I could think of others, but those are a few ideas. Basically anybody but Griffin. He gutted the technology and microgravity research sides of NASA, and was hoping to splash the ISS this year, and all we got was a giant corndog...

~Jon

Offline redliox

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1719
  • Arizona USA
  • Liked: 323
  • Likes Given: 54
Re: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« Reply #7 on: 02/26/2016 09:33 PM »
We could speculate who will be the next administrator, but the next president could pick virtually anyone that crosses his (or her) eye with minimal thought.  Unless there's a political gain to appointing a new headmaster for NASA, they could likewise keep Bolden in charge (as much as I dislike that option) in the same manner Daniel Goldin worked through 3 presidencies.  I don't think we'll really know until it actually happens.

The only other thought I have would be with Micheal Griffin.  While he was a scientist and 'better aligned' with NASA, I don't think reappointing him would be good.  As Costal Ron pointed out, Griffin wasn't much of a good manager which in turn was why he didn't last long.  Whoever the administrator is, he has to also be someone that's more than an enthusiast, he has to be strong enough to actually command; the Kepler and Dawn missions came close to being off-railed, were given strong warnings, and because of that their teams adjusted and ultimately survived to do great science; Project Prometheus would be an example of management failing.  Someone who is experienced and slightly cautious would be wise to look into; who that is I don't know.
"Let the trails lead where they may, I will follow."
-Tigatron

Offline arachnitect

  • Member
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1438
  • Liked: 384
  • Likes Given: 456
Re: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« Reply #8 on: 02/26/2016 11:12 PM »
Kathy Sullivan.

Offline eric z

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 244
  • Liked: 117
  • Likes Given: 315
Re: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« Reply #9 on: 02/26/2016 11:24 PM »
 I had what I thought was a neat post ready, but my cat hit my arm and sent it into oblivion, possibly for the best. Ms.Sullivan also has been doing a great job, under pressure from the science is phony-types here in DC. General Bolden has my highest admiration, once again very tough environment here lately!
  How about Steve Squyres? The public knows him, and he can interface with all the different factions. Moon, Mars, excitement- what's not to like? 8)
 
« Last Edit: 02/26/2016 11:29 PM by eric z »

Offline Lar

  • Fan boy at large
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8609
  • Saw Gemini live on TV
  • A large LEGO storage facility ... in Michigan
  • Liked: 5366
  • Likes Given: 3550
Re: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« Reply #10 on: 02/27/2016 12:48 AM »
I think Chris Bergin would make a great administrator of NASA. No, really.  Except for the being a Brit part. This thesis, that having a fan run things is actually a good idea, is one I hold true for railways, some of the very best railways are run by fans... so why not NASA? 

More seriously, I would hope whoever it is truly loves space and wants to see us expand outward. Not just an administrator type. LEGO almost perished while being run by people who saw LEGO as a great company to work for but didn't actually have much passion for the brick.

But that's not the way to bet. The next prez will be like all the other recent ones, all about photo ops but not actually caring all that much.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Online Comga

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3910
  • Liked: 1232
  • Likes Given: 1047
Re: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« Reply #11 on: 02/27/2016 04:35 AM »
Steve Isakowitz was another good suggestion from last time around (currently at VG).
Maybe someone with DARPA experience?
Maybe someone from the Augustine Committee? Jeff Greason or Leroy Chiao? They seemed to have a good handle on the issues that NASA and Congress continue to ignore.

I could think of others, but those are a few ideas. Basically anybody but Griffin. He gutted the technology and microgravity research sides of NASA, and was hoping to splash the ISS this year, and all we got was a giant corndog...

~Jon

I agree with all of this, and the last part (my emphasis) almost made my choke on my drink.  Very well done, Mr. Goff!
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline ChrisWilson68

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3527
  • Sunnyvale, CA
  • Liked: 2081
  • Likes Given: 2437
Re: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« Reply #12 on: 02/27/2016 06:43 AM »
Elon Musk.

He has a strong passion for it, he cares about getting results, he's incorruptible, he understands that optimizing for long-term cost is critical, he's known and respected by the public, he has a strong management track record, and he's not afraid to take on government bureaucracy.

On the other hand, he'd hate the job.  He'd be too constrained by all the politics.  He'd be very unlikely to actually be nominated, and he probably wouldn't accept the nomination even if he were.  And he has a huge conflict-of-interest as owner of a large NASA contractor.  Plus, it would distract him from all his SpaceX and Tesla work.

But he'd still be the best at the job if somehow he could end up with it.

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5156
  • Liked: 783
  • Likes Given: 542
Re: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« Reply #13 on: 02/27/2016 06:45 PM »
Why would heads explode thinking about Lori Garver?  I don't know too much about her, but she seems to understand the value of commercial partners and fixed price contracts.

Her lack of enthusiasm for Shuttle-derived stuff makes her intensely disliked in some quarters.  You can find some quite dismissive comments about her in this forum.

Offline edkyle99

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12777
    • Space Launch Report
  • Liked: 3548
  • Likes Given: 607
Re: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« Reply #14 on: 02/27/2016 08:39 PM »
Wayne Hale, if he could be cajoled out of retirement.  The man was a brilliant shuttle program manager, and has almost too much common sense for the job.  He famously told a room of NASA and contractor folks last fall, "If you want to know who to blame, look in the mirror".

https://waynehale.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/von-braun-symposium-speech-oct-29-2015/

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 02/27/2016 08:43 PM by edkyle99 »

Online zubenelgenubi

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1133
  • Arc to Arcturus, then Spike to Spica
  • Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Liked: 239
  • Likes Given: 694
Re: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« Reply #15 on: 02/28/2016 12:50 AM »
An observation from the OP regarding the role of the Administrator

Walt Cunningham reports in his book, The All American Boys, on the time, pre-Apollo 7, when he and Wally Schirra joined President Lyndon B. Johnson on a tour of the Michoud facilities.

During a brief limousine drive back to the front of the facility, Cunningham reports Johnson as commenting on Apollo,
Quote
"Jim Webb is the only man working for me who told me what he was going to do, when he was going to do it, and what it was going to cost, and he is accomplishing all three.
« Last Edit: 02/29/2016 06:42 PM by zubenelgenubi »
Support your local planetarium!

Offline bad_astra

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1789
  • Liked: 195
  • Likes Given: 180
Re: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« Reply #16 on: 02/28/2016 06:24 AM »
Lori Garver
"Contact Light" -Buzz Aldrin

Offline Endeavour_01

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 487
  • Physics Professor in SC, USA
  • Liked: 399
  • Likes Given: 405
Re: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« Reply #17 on: 02/28/2016 06:54 AM »
Wayne Hale would be a great choice. Several other members of the NAC would be good candidates. (as would Chris Bergin!  :) )

I met Mike Griffin once in '09. I really liked talking to him and he was very gracious to his successor. He made a number of mistakes but what happened with CxP wasn't entirely his fault. He also helped get the last Hubble servicing mission up which is still benefiting us today. He clearly wanted to stay in the job when Obama came in and I assume he still wants it.

Like redliox though I believe that reappointing him would be a bad idea and I think that new leadership is needed.
« Last Edit: 02/28/2016 06:58 AM by Endeavour_01 »
I cheer for both NASA and commercial space. For SLS, Orion, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Dragon, Starliner, Cygnus and all the rest!
I was blessed to see the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-99. The launch was beyond amazing. My 8-year old mind was blown. I remember the noise and seeing the exhaust pour out of the shuttle as it lifted off. I remember staring and watching it soar while it was visible in the clear blue sky. It was one of the greatest moments of my life and I will never forget it.

Offline redliox

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1719
  • Arizona USA
  • Liked: 323
  • Likes Given: 54
Re: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« Reply #18 on: 02/28/2016 08:05 AM »
Although I stated "it doesn't really matter, none of us will know" I may have a thought to inject...

Robert Zubrin  8)

He'd be a bit of a wildcard and probably rub too much against the majority of NASA establishment...but he would push things harder to actually get something done because of his passion.  However I doubt he's known well enough in political circles and NASA pretty much hates him.  But if you wanted someone that wasn't the "same-old-same-old" and to shake things up...well...
 :P

In seriousness though, all we're doing in this thread is speculating.  The next President will pick someone out of a draw hat without second thoughts, not much more.
"Let the trails lead where they may, I will follow."
-Tigatron

Offline woods170

  • IRAS fan
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7285
  • IRAS fan
  • The Netherlands
  • Liked: 2935
  • Likes Given: 870
Re: Who should be the next NASA Administrator?
« Reply #19 on: 02/28/2016 09:41 AM »
Wayne Hale, if he could be cajoled out of retirement.  The man was a brilliant shuttle program manager, and has almost too much common sense for the job.  He famously told a room of NASA and contractor folks last fall, "If you want to know who to blame, look in the mirror".

https://waynehale.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/von-braun-symposium-speech-oct-29-2015/

 - Ed Kyle

Here's how Wayne thinks about becoming NASA Administrator:

Quote from: Wayne Hale
waynehale says:   
November 7, 2015 at 2:52 pm   

Oh heavens no. I am particularly unsuited and ill prepared for what the Administrator has to do to make NASA successful. Working successful inside the beltway requires many skills that I lack. Thank you for the kind thought but lets just drop that idea.

Tags: