Tuesday, December 20, 2011

NASA Taps a Rocket Scientist

John Grunsfeld during an HST servicing mission
Astronaut John Grunsfeld, payload commander for the fourth Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission (March 2002), relaxes on Columbia's aft flight deck after completing a 7-hour space walk.

You might think that running the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) at NASA would be the job of a lifetime.

After all, you'd be in command of the space agency's efforts to explore the solar system and universe. You'd have about $5 billion to spend each year and have a big say in deciding whether the next Great Adventure should be to send a probe to Jupiter or to rendezvous with a comet. You'd be right there in the control room when, say, a lander touches down on Mars and relays an "A-OK" back to Earth. And you'd be briefed on breakthrough discoveries before anyone else.

But you'd also have to deal with spending levels dictated by presidents and Congressional committees who don't necessarily view space exploration as a national priority, let alone an imperative. You'd apply "tough love" to projects that are running way over budget, way behind schedule, or both. And you'd have to play Solomon when confronting squabbling scientists who want to advance one discipline's pet projects at the expense of others'.

MORE: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/news/NASA-Taps-a-Rocket-Scientist-135927183.html


Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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