Why Won’t Anyone Step Up to Run the Coolest Agency in Government?

It’s been a while, and still no official word on whether President Barack Obama will nominate General Jonathan Scott Gration as the new administrator of NASA, as had been reported earlier.

Meanwhile, Mike Griffin has left the building, leaving Chris Scolese as Acting Administrator until the new president nominates a successor and the Senate gives its approval.

Why the silence? For one, there has been some opposition from certain key Congressional leaders, who have noted Gration’s relative inexperience with the aerospace community and NASA in particular.

The Rocketsandsuch blog has another explanation for why Obama might be having difficulty finding anyone to run what – in theory – should be the coolest job in government:

“A stick [Ares rocket] that won’t fly. A capsule [Orion] too heavy to fly on the stick that won’t fly. A lander [Altair] too wobbly to meet the capsule that is too heavy to fly on the stick that won’t fly. A rocket too heavy to craw to the pad to carry a lander too wobbly to meet the capsule that is too heavy to fly on the stick that won’t fly.”

Yeah, that could have something to do with it.

I’ve been hearing terrible things for years about the entire Constellation program, particularly the Ares booster. A badly conceived plan that should never have been started. Expendable boosters could do the job, but it would take some effort to human rate them. Meanwhile, there is so much invested in Ares that it could be difficult to cancel.

I don’t envy whoever takes over. He or she’s going to be in a real pickle.