Bush Science Chief: Griffin Is Solution to NASA Human Space Flight "Gap"

image

When asked how the Bush administration plans to address the looming four-year gap from the retirement of the space shuttle in 2010 to the first manned flight of the Crew Exploration Vehicle in 2014; a time when the U.S. will have no human access to space, its chief scientist had a two-word answer.

Mike Griffin.

Dr. John H. Marburger III, the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, told this writer Thursday that he wasn't happy about the prospects of the spaceship gap. But help was on the way.

"I'm not satisfied with the gap," Marburger said Thursday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy forum in Washington. "But as concerns the gap, I'd point you to Mike Griffin," he said.

How so, Marburger was asked?

"He believes that there are (NASA) resources there that can be used to accelerate the CEV and eliminate the gap," he predicted.

Would the NASA FY06 budget top line be raised to accommodate the new CEV development plan? Nope.

"These are internal resources," Marburger said, without getting into specifics. And while the OSTP chief said he didn't like the prospect of not having access to space for a period following the shuttle's retirement; it wasn't exactly the end of the world.

"As far as access to space, we don't have access now," Marburger said, pointing to the grounding of the shuttle fleet since the February 1, 2003 Columbia disaster. "But our Russian partners have been outstanding. This is a full and active partnership," he added. And furthermore, more gaps in access were likely in the future of the U.S. space program. These gaps are to be viewed as a fact of life in space operations, he suggested.

"There will be future gaps from time to time. The thing to remember is that the president's plan is a long-term, sustained commitment." Gaps, he suggested, were simply a part of the continuing process of space exploration.

And as far as the 2010-2014 gap is concerned, "Mike Griffin thinks he can eliminate this gap." Marburger also reminded this writer that the administration would not seek to micromanage Griffin-or any other agency head-in how they ran their agencies.

"The President gives these (agency heads) wide latitude in how they arrange their resources" to accomplish their missions, Marburger explained. "We don't micromanage them."


Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.