Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lack of NASA administrator 'real harm'

"We're at a pivotal point. ... As we move forward in time it becomes more difficult from a funding standpoint because what we're doing is shaping the workforce and shaping the content of work for a completion of the shuttle mission in Sept. 2010. As we get closer and closer to the end it becomes more and more difficult, it requires more and more money to turn that around.

"Since last Fall we have been asked through legislation to maintain the ability to continue and extend the shuttle through "Do Not Preclude" language through April of this year. We are coming to the end of that timeline." - Shuttle program manager LeRoy Cain

Hat Tip to Houston Chronicle's SciGuy Eric Berger

"...there's a definite undercurrent of unease. President Barack Obama has yet to name a new administrator to replace Mike Griffin, nor has he clearly elaborated his vision for the space agency's future.

"That has left current employees and contractors to press ahead with their current plans to end shuttle flights in 2010, and the Constellation program to resume flying astronauts into space by 2015.

"Yet the apparent indecision from Obama, which if nothing else suggests to NASA employees that they rate lower on the President's priorities than choosing a dog, is now causing some significant programmatic problems."

"A recent memo from shuttle program manager John Shannon to shuttle managers and engineers, obtained by CBS News, indicated that if NASA is to stick to its plan to retire the shuttle next year it will need to begin shutting down critical components by this month's end."

"...there are the swirling concerns about delays to the Constellation program, nicely outlined in this Orlando Sentinel story. Because of funding shortfalls NASA may have to delay its program to return to the moon by two years, and there's also concern about making the 2015 launch date to resume flying astronauts to the space station."

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