Griffin Praises Bolden Pick, Trashes Ares Review

Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin
Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin

AP Interview: Ex-NASA head critical of Obama move
Associated Press

Griffin was pleased with Obama’s selection of former astronaut Charles Bolden as his successor. Griffin — who was sometimes faulted for what some described as a prickly personality — said Bolden has the experience, smarts and people skills for the job.

“It would be very hard to think more highly of him,” he said. “He’s way better with people than I am.”

But Griffin doesn’t have the same warm feelings about the administration’s decision to study NASA’s plan for the manned spaceflight program. Critics both outside and inside the agency have questioned NASA’s plans for returning to the moon and, eventually, traveling to Mars.

“This review is not, in my judgment, necessary from a technical point of view,” he said. “But it does seem to be necessary if we are going to quiet some of the criticism of what NASA is doing, and if we are going to get the new administration on board.”

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My Thoughts:  Griffin’s opinion on Bolden appears to be the concensus view. He appears to be well respected and a good choice to lead NASA.

As for Constellation, many people disagree with Griffin’s assessment. There are very serious technical and engineering problems with the design, much of it relating to the five-segment, SRB-derived first stage. This was Griffin’s call, so he is defending his chief legacy to America’s space program. 

The Augustine panel will examine whether there the current architecture has enough momentum to sustain itself and what the prospects are for overcoming the challenges. The commission also will weigh the viability and costs of alternatives.

My guess is that Griffin may be on stronger ground there, i.e., that significant technical and cost issues exist relating to existing expendable boosters.