The Huntsville Times has a long profile of former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin, who accepted a $300,000/year teaching/rainmaker position at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
“The need for the (current space study commission headed by Norman Augustine) is motivated solely by the public controversy over whether NASA got it right, if you will, in the architectural choices being made following the (explosion of the shuttle Columbia in 2003),” he said.
“I happen to think that NASA got it right,” Griffin said, “but if it isn’t exactly right and isn’t exactly perfect, I would argue, ‘So what?’ The question is not is it perfect? Is it good enough? Will it work? Is it one of the acceptable choices … if so, shut up and move on.”
Griffin believes America’s technical community, especially when it comes to public projects, has “become overly preoccupied with making sure everyone agrees, and it’s an unattainable goal.”
“Part of engineering is creating things which have never existed before,” Griffin said.
I don’t even know where to begin on this one. It’s not really a problem of consensus; it’s a genuine fear that the Ares architecture isn’t working. It’s not working from an engineering standpoint, from a technical standpoint, from a cost standpoint. From any standpoint.
If things were going well on this project, people would have accepted it long ago and moved on. They would have said, “Hey, I didn’t think this was a good idea, but Mike has been proven right.” But, that isn’t the case.
People who work these issues know that there isn’t a perfect solution. They know that Delta IV and DIRECT and the other possible options have drawbacks, costs and risks. It’s just that the current option seems so seriously flawed. And it would be ridiculous for them to simply shut up if we’re heading for a major fall here.
The Ares architecture is primarily Griffin’s plan. It’s little wonder that he defends it with this sort of ferocity. But, he doesn’t seem to ever acknowledge any of the legitimate reasons why people might want to review his masterpiece. And that doesn’t help us very much at this point.
Read the full interview.