The Politics of NASA's New Path
posted February 28, 2010 by milesobrien
Mr. Bolden goes to Capitol Hill this week…
The NASA boss Charlie Bolden is a former Marine fighter and test pilot and astronaut and he is used to taking flak – after all he flew a hundred combat missions over southeast Asia during the Vietnam war. So facing off with some lawmakers on Capitol Hill over the controversial Obama NASA budget proposal – piece of cake- right? Well, it started out that way – he began with the Senate Subcommittee on Science & Space. The chairman – his former shuttle crew member – then Congressman – now Senator Bill Nelson. Watch their exchange here.
The next day – Charlie Bolden found himself in a different orbit – namely the House of Representatives – where they don’t know comity – from comedy…and when he appeared before the House Science Committee, it was so silly you almost had to laugh as members from Texas Alabama and Florida tried to out Bolden-bash one another.
The Obama budget for the space agency puts some big bets on some commercial players to work more independently to get cargo – and ultimately humans to and from low earth orbit. But there are a host of concerns about transferring so much risk outside the space agency. One of the main players in this game is Orbital Sciences – Like its competitor SpaceX, the company is building a vehicle to deliver cargo to the ISS under contract to NASA. Veteran astronaut and NASA manager Frank Culbertson is now a senior VP with orbital – and he was listening intently – as I was – when his former fellow astronaut Hoot Gibson said this in that Senate Hearing. Watch and listen to our conversation here.