Author Topic: Griffin, The Obama Transition Team, and "sources" at the Orlando Sentinel  (Read 43013 times)

Offline t.a.george

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Whatever was said the other day in Florida wasn't said quite loud enough to reach my ears in Oregon.

Instead, I've watched a lot of NASA TV, and I wonder if other people's observations about Dr. Griffin have been like my own.

In general, when I watch Dr. Griffin take part in a briefing or news conference, I find him aggressive, defensive and rattled, even when context would expect the opposite. (I've seen him praise the mission team after a wildly successful mission, while looking as if he expected disagreement, and perhaps fistfighting from the media.)

Equally jarring (and to me, problematic) are his answers to questions from the press.  When asked a challenging question, I've come to expect a response that boils down to either:

A.  "That question is insulting.  How dare you ask it"

or

B.  "Smarter people than you are working on that issue, so don't worry about it."

(When response B fails to satisfy, he invariably reverts to response A.)


To me, response B, while it rankles, is sort of fair.  Smart people really ARE working on it.  I largely admire Griffin's trust in, and defense of, those smart people, and the work they do.

Response A is the one that makes me mad, and I think it's what many people in this thread have been driving at.  Regardless of reports from unnamed sources, Dr. Griffin's "I know what I'm doing so further questions are personally insulting" posture has been on display for a long time.

If VSE, or anything like it, is to gain support in the Obama administration, I very much hope they end up talking with (and working with) someone more persuasive than Dr. Griffin.  Someone whose calm passion, reason and forthrightness can override the holders of the purse strings (many of whom have Political Science degrees, I'm afraid).

Shall we give them Wayne Hale's number?

Offline Lee Jay

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Shall we give them Wayne Hale's number?

Well, his public handling of press questions is certainly polished and impressive (extremely).  I personally think making a guy like him NASA administrator would be a waste of his skills.

Offline catdlr

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Keith Oberman (MSNBC) did an entire segment on the Sentinel article tonight. Complete with Ares V animation and an interview with the author.


Here is the URL:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677/

I saw the segment, and I have to say, the more mainstream this story gets, the more it makes NASA in general look bad.

Give the site another two hours to get the segment on the web site under the Latest category.  It's currently showing yesterdays segments.
Tony De La Rosa

Offline Chris Bergin


And another follow-up from the Sentinel...


And like clockwork, there's the second effort based on the denial of the original rumor article, as pre-empted.

Other papers rehashing the same thing, mixing it up with examples of 50 attendees into "50 witnesses of the argument".

Come on guys, isn't it obvious how the game is played yet?

Meanwhile, Griffin's going to lose his job over this, you can see it coming, because the media will keep rehashing this over and over again, in a cyclonic wave of falling over each other to make this as big a scandal as possible, negating any facts, until the pressure claims its victim.

The main problem being that Joe Public will once again see NASA as a waste of money, and the year will once again end with a negative, despite four successful shuttle missions, Pheonix, etc.

Offline kfsorensen

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Meanwhile, Griffin's going to lose his job over this, you can see it coming
Um, I'm pretty sure Griffin was going to lose his job anyway.

Offline madscientist197

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As much as I may not like the exact direction that NASA has been moving in, this is so destructive for NASA. The media is going to give Obama no choice but to deal harshly to NASA if this keeps up and this will probably destroy any chance of a return to the moon. If a decision has to be made it really needs to be rational, not some media inspired jack-up.
John

Offline beb

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The main problem being that Joe Public will once again see NASA as a waste of money, and the year will once again end with a negative, despite four successful shuttle missions, Pheonix, etc.

Chris I think this will be seem as yet another insane Bushie refusing to leave office. We've already got an US Attorney who thinks she doesn't have to submit a resignation just because the president asks for it. (Ironically Bush is also asking all USA's to submit their resignations).

From everything I've read here Griffin acted like a jerk towards the transition team. He -- personally -- not NASA, not Constellation, etc.  It won't reflect badly in NASA.

At least that my opinion. My mileage may vary.

Offline wannamoonbase

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Being an engineer, who has worked with PhD's, there are tell tail signs present.  Namely the 'I'm right, so why are you asking these questions.'  (I exhibit this behaviour myself sometimes).  Engineers, especially Design engineers, fall in love with their ideas and will remain wedded to them until the end of the universe.  And they may not be wrong, many times they can see answers to problems many steps before us mortals.  (I've fallen into this several times and felt stupid).

The biggest problem with PhD's and engineers in general is that we are too technical.  We engineers, almost without except, are terrible sales people and communicators (except to other engineers).  (Like really bad)
Excited to be finally into the first Falcon Heavy flow, we are getting so close!

Offline marsavian

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And another follow-up from the Sentinel...


And like clockwork, there's the second effort based on the denial of the original rumor article, as pre-empted.

Other papers rehashing the same thing, mixing it up with examples of 50 attendees into "50 witnesses of the argument".

Come on guys, isn't it obvious how the game is played yet?

Meanwhile, Griffin's going to lose his job over this, you can see it coming, because the media will keep rehashing this over and over again, in a cyclonic wave of falling over each other to make this as big a scandal as possible, negating any facts, until the pressure claims its victim.

The main problem being that Joe Public will once again see NASA as a waste of money, and the year will once again end with a negative, despite four successful shuttle missions, Pheonix, etc.

Media tends to divide itself along factual and scandal lines, with your site being amongst the former. To prevent falling victim to the latter type public officials need to conduct themselves with a certain decorum, gravitas and grace and Griffin is sorely lacking in that respect, witness his comments about global warming and his comments virtually dictating what conditions he would accept keeping the job which was very presumptous. The damage to NASA from this will not be long lasting and if the story is true then at least a complete break can now be made with the recent past and hopefully a more open NASA community can emerge from the aftermath which can debate options without fear. Griffin maybe a great engineer but he has shown he is not a great public official and he must shoulder some of the blame for providing ammunition for media elements who go looking for scandals.

Offline Jim

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Chris I think this will be seem as yet another insane Bushie refusing to leave office. We've already got an US Attorney who thinks she doesn't have to submit a resignation just because the president asks for it. (Ironically Bush is also asking all USA's to submit their resignations).


You people keep on making this a Republican- Democrat issue.   It is far from that, Griffin is a Democrat

Offline khallow

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It is worth remembering that the Orlando Sentinel has published several anti-Ares (and pro-Direct) articles in recent months, hyping the Thrust Oscillation Hysteria (now debunked), and so forth.  It stands to reason that the Sentinel's space editor has no love for Mr. Griffin, for whatever reason.

I read through the thread on the new thrust oscillation findings. Seems pretty weak to claim thrust oscillation has been "debunked". There's a claim that TO only occurs one third of the time which I don't buy given the length of the burn. Maybe it is meant that TO is only one third likely to manifest strongly enough to be a problem.

I see no assessment of the failure rate of the passive systems or the performance hit on Ares I, particularly the passive reaction mass actuator (or passive RMA) and the interstage isolator. Reducing TO mitigation to passive systems is a huge step though in reliability. We don't have a stable Orion capsule design either and it now needs to account for the mass of crew seat isolators. I think it's reasonable for the Obama administration to reconsider the new Ares I with its reduced performance against the EELVs.

Finally, I'm concerned that this problems is being downplayed in a dishonest manner. There's strong pressure on NASA to deliver a viable Ares I project by Obama's inauguration. I gather the Ares I-X was supposed to be that proof, but it's been delayed till Fall 2009.

It's awful convenient that NASA, based on a little bit of testing (namely, firing a 4 segment motor and conducting vibration testing on volunteers) conducted as late as it possibly can be done under the Bush administration, has found that one of the worst problems can now be downgraded to the 35th worst problem (at least on the list provided in the above thread). How do we know that thrust oscillation will remain a fixed problem and not creep up back to the top of the list of outstanding problems? If this were six months ago, we'd have far more confidence because the tests and conclusions could be examined with plenty of time before a new administration had to decide the fate of Ares I.
Karl Hallowell

Offline rdale

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There's strong pressure on NASA to deliver a viable Ares I project by Obama's inauguration. I gather the Ares I-X was supposed to be that proof, but it's been delayed till Fall 2009.

Huh? Ares I-X was on the "books" for April '09 for a LONG time, then was moved back. I never heard any talk of moving it up to mid-January, what do you have to back that up?

Offline MarkWhittington

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More from the Washington Post... (apparently, there were 50 public witnesses to whatever altercation)...

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/12/11/by_joel_achenbach_nasa_adminst.html

And another follow-up from the Sentinel...

http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_space_thewritestuff/2008/12/griffin-says--1.html

Here is a quote from the Sentinal article that should send up a chill:

"In a meeting Tuesday with the Coalition for Space Exploration, a space advocacy group, Garver said that her team was 'unhappy” with NASA’s plan – pushed by Griffin -- to retire the space shuttle in 2010 “no matter what.' Griffin has said the shuttle must be grounded to free up money for Constellation if its Ares 1 rocket is to fly by 2015.

"She also said that under NASA’s current plans the possibility for exploration beyond the Earth’s orbit seems unattainable at present, an industry executive who attended the meeting.

"Garver didn’t say what options her group might recommend, such as more money to keep flying the shuttle or changing the rocket systems NASA is currently developing to go to the moon. However, she promised that 'there is going to be change.'"
If Garver is speaking for Obama and not just for herself, it looks like the One is leaning toward reneging on the promise he made in Titusville during the campaign.


Offline edkyle99

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You people keep on making this a Republican- Democrat issue.   It is far from that, Griffin is a Democrat

Right.  It is about Griffin fighting to save his legacy.  His space career for years has been tied to arguing for Moon/Mars human exploration.  He finally had his chance to make it happen - or at least to start the process.  He knows, and has known for some time, that he will be departing NASA soon.  His final task is fighting to preserve Constellation, or at least for a chance to preserve enough so that it could one day rise from the ashes if necessary. 

Griffin may have rough edges, but he has undeniably been an important agent of change for NASA.  Before Griffin, NASA was drawing "Spirals" on Powerpoint.  Under Griffin, it has launched a program to develop an entirely new human launch system.   

History, not the Orlando Sentinel, will be the final judge of Griffin's legacy.  If NASA gets astronauts to the Moon, and someday Mars, Griffin will be seen as a man with "Vision" who set the process in motion. 

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 12/12/2008 04:33 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline yinzer

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You people keep on making this a Republican- Democrat issue.   It is far from that, Griffin is a Democrat

Right.  It is about Griffin fighting to save his legacy.  His space career for years has been tied to arguing for Moon/Mars human exploration.  He finally had his chance to make it happen - or at least to start the process.  He knows, and has known for some time, that he will be departing NASA soon.  His final task is fighting to preserve Constellation, or at least for a chance to preserve enough so that it could one day rise from the ashes if necessary. 

The NASA administrator is part of the executive branch and therefore subordinate to the president.  If Griffin is trying to take action now explicitly to undermine the ability of Barack Obama to direct NASA as he sees fit, he should expect to be fired as soon as the oath of inauguration is complete.

If he succeeds in making the continuation of the Constellation program a Mike Griffin vs. Barack Obama pissing contest, he should expect to see the program cancelled as a means of establishing just who is in charge.  You can do some element of this maneuvering and politicking subtly and behind the scenes, but once it comes out into the open you've left your boss with no choice but to come down hard.

Edited to add: executive agencies can exert some leverage over the president via public opinion and leaks to the media.  This is what's going on when you read articles like "EPA workers privately unhappy with Bush Administration proposal to add arsenic to your drinking water" or "Administration planning to cancel Space Shuttle and lay off 20,000 in Florida and 50,000 nationwide".  NASA may be clumsily trying something along these lines.  Not that it would work, since Ares I isn't as popular as safe drinking water, and the Obama folks can always say "We aren't laying anyone off, we're going to fly Shuttle for a couple more years while we come up with our plan.  We hoped to have a plan by the time we took office, but certain elements in NASA have been making this difficult by trying to protect their pet projects from the George W. Bush administration."

I thought Griffin and Horowitz might have doomed the future of US manned spaceflight by choosing an architecture that would lead to a prolonged gap and limited capabilities once the gap was past, but I had no idea that he'd go out of his way to antagonize the incoming administration as well.
« Last Edit: 12/12/2008 05:49 AM by yinzer »
California 2008 - taking rights from people and giving rights to chickens.

Offline yinzer

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Quote
Shank said the two were discussing the merits of Griffin's plan to develop a new rocket, Ares I, to put people into orbit after the space shuttle is retired. The alternative would be to upgrade an existing rocket, not yet rated as safe for human flight. Shank confirmed that Griffin questioned whether the Obama transition team had the engineering qualifications to analyze the merits of the different rockets.

This is not politically astute behavior.

Obama Transition Staff: We're going to be your new bosses.  We hear there's some controversy over this Ares I thing you've got, some people say it'd be better to use what they call an EELV.  We know you think Ares is better. These people say that you're too emotionally attached to Ares and are blind to its flaws, that the program is in trouble, and that you react negatively to any perceived dissent regardless of merit.  We're talking to everyone involved, can you give us your technical information?

Griffin: You don't know anything about designing rockets.  What good will this information do you?   We know what we're doing, why don't you just leave us alone?

Obama Transition Staff: I see. Those other people were clearly right about the whole negative reaction to perceived dissent bit.  Are you going to give us the information, or not?
California 2008 - taking rights from people and giving rights to chickens.

Offline Jim

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Griffin may have rough edges, but he has undeniably been an important agent of change for NASA.  Before Griffin, NASA was drawing "Spirals" on Powerpoint.  Under Griffin, it has launched a program to develop an entirely new human launch system.   


The "new" human launch system was not required.  Constellation was not going in "Spirals". The CEV contract was let while Stiedle was in charge .  And there would been a flight within the next year. Also the plan took in account of the budget limitations.

The reason NASA is in the sorry state is that Griffin came in like a new Alpha male lion.  He killed all the existing "cubs".  He changed NASA structure like he was pissing to leave his mark and impregnated constellation with his legacy.

The "new" human launch system wasn't derived by NASA, it was imposed by one person
« Last Edit: 12/12/2008 11:56 AM by Jim »

Offline William Barton

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I've said this before and I'll say it again. Griffin made one enormous mistake when he came on board, and that was to assume his solution to the VSE mandate could survive multiple election cycles and presidential transitions. That was utter folly. At a minimum, he needed to make sure a manned CEV had reached orbit by Fall of 2008 (ie, before the election). If that had been put before everything else (inlcuding his own favored architecture), it could have been done, and had he done it, it would be likely whoever won the election would have kept him on as a glorious success, and that would have bought him all the years out to 2016 to get to the Moon.

History proves this out time and again. Kennedy wanted to get men to the Moon before he left office at the beginning of 1969. But for Apollo 1 (and the mistakes that led up to it), it's likely the first manned landing would have been in late 1968. Nixon wanted the Shuttle to fly by 1976. Reagan made a mistake letting the space station get out of hand. He should have made it small enough to fly by 1988. As it was, Clinton decided to "brand" it for himself, and then made sure at least a little bit of it flew before he left office. You can argue details all you want, but the fact is, the election cycle in this country, and the swing back and forth between party-in-power spoilage, determines outcomes much more than anything else. Deciding on an architecture that put men on the Moon eight election cycles down the road, and which wouldn't show a single tangible *result* for five cycles, was just plain stupid.

Obama may make any kind of decision at all, including the really bad one he suggested at the beginning of his campaign. But if he wants to make Constellation his own, he's only got one rational course. Extend Shuttle to 2011 (ie., 2 to 4 more flights), make sure Orion is aloft by 2012 (during his run for reelection!), and make sure an American crew lands on the Moon before election day 2016 (nail down that part of his legacy and boost his chosen successor's chances of victory). I can think of several ways he can achieve that (EELV+Jupiter seems a pretty good bet, if you ask me). But it's too late now for a flat budget to handle it. I guess we'llfind out in the next few months.

Offline Blackstar

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Other papers rehashing the same thing, mixing it up with examples of 50 attendees into "50 witnesses of the argument".

Chris is right.  I was there, 20 feet away.  I heard and saw no "argument."  And other stuff in the article about the party is exaggerated.

Don't believe everything you read, even if it satisfies your pre-conceived notions.

Offline William Barton

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Other papers rehashing the same thing, mixing it up with examples of 50 attendees into "50 witnesses of the argument".

Chris is right.  I was there, 20 feet away.  I heard and saw no "argument."  And other stuff in the article about the party is exaggerated.

Don't believe everything you read, even if it satisfies your pre-conceived notions.

Unfortunately, once a meme-set has escaped into the noosphere, it doesn't matter what insiders and witnesses know or say, but rather how many are hearing the story, for whom its meme-set content constitutes the sum total of their knowledge of the subject.

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