I think NASA director Mike Griffin wants to lose his job (not a good idea these days…):
NASA administrator Mike Griffin is not cooperating with President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, is obstructing its efforts to get information and has told its leader that she is “not qualified” to judge his rocket program, the Orlando Sentinel has learned.
In a heated 40-minute conversation last week with Lori Garver, a former NASA associate administrator who heads the space transition team, a red-faced Griffin demanded to speak directly to Obama, according to witnesses.
In addition, Griffin is scripting NASA employees and civilian contractors on what they can tell the transition team and has warned aerospace executives not to criticize the agency’s moon program, sources said.
Griffin’s resistance is part of a no-holds-barred effort to preserve the Constellation program, the delayed and over-budget moon rocket that is his signature project.
…Nearly four years ago, President Bush brought in Griffin to implement a plan to return astronauts to the moon by 2020 as a prelude to going to Mars. Griffin and his team selected Constellation, with its NASA-designed Ares I rocket and Orion capsule, as cheaper and safer than existing rockets. Constellation – especially Ares 1 — is the center of what Griffin sees as his legacy to return humans to the frontiers of space.
Griffin has made no secret that he would like to stay on but only, as he recently told Kennedy Space Center workers, “under the right circumstances,” including being able to finish Constellation.
But budget problems and technical issues have created growing doubts about the project. Griffin has dismissed these as normal rocket development issues, but they’ve clearly got the transition team’s attention.
When team members arrived three weeks ago, they asked the agency, among other things, to quantify how much could be saved by canceling Ares I. Though they also asked what it would take to accelerate the program, the fact that the team could even consider scrapping the program was enough to spur Griffin and his supporters into action
According to industry officials, Griffin started calling heads of companies working for NASA, demanding that they either tell the Obama team that they support Constellation or refrain from talking about alternatives.
The companies, worried that Griffin may remain and somehow punish them if they ignore his wishes, have by and large complied.
And lots of unnecessary drama:
Tensions were on public display last week at the NASA library, as overheard by guests at a book party.
According to people who were present, Logsdon, a space historian, told a group of about 50 people he had just learned that President John F. Kennedy’s transition team had completely ignored NASA.
Griffin responded, in a loud voice, “I wish the Obama team would come and talk to me.”
Alan Ladwig, a transition team member who was at the party with Garver, shouted out: “Well, we’re here now, Mike.”
Soon after, Garver and Griffin engaged in what witnesses said was an animated conversation. Some overheard parts of it.
“Mike, I don’t understand what the problem is. We are just trying to look under the hood,” Garver said.
“If you are looking under the hood, then you are calling me a liar,” Griffin replied. “Because it means you don’t trust what I say is under the hood.
First rule of governmenting: don’t fly off the handle unless it’s intentional. Space historian (there’s a cool job) Logsdon’s take on things:
Said John Logsdon, a George Washington University professor who co-wrote the book honored at the NASA party, “There is a natural tension built into this situation… Mike is dead-on convinced that the current approach to the program is the right one. And Lori’s job is to question that for Mr. Obama. The Obama team is not going to walk in and take Mike’s word for it.”
I love publicly funded entertainment.