Current and Three Former NASA Administrators to Share Perspectives with NRC Committee Next Week

Current and Three Former NASA Administrators to Share Perspectives with NRC Committee Next Week

The National Research Council’s (NRC’s) study committee on NASA’s Strategic Direction will hear from the current NASA Administrator as well as three of his predecessors at its meeting next week in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), chairman of the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee, directed NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) to contract for an independent assessment of NASA’s strategic direction in the FY2012 CJS appropriations bill.   The OIG selected the NRC to conduct the study, which held its first meeting in April.

The second meeting will be held next week, June 25-27, 2012.   Among the speakers are current NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and three previous NASA Administrators:

  • Jim Beggs, who served as administrator during the early years of the Reagan Administration and is credited with winning approval for what is today known as the International Space Station (ISS) program despite widespread opposition from Reagan’s cabinet.  Beggs is retired now and chairs the NASA Alumni League.
  • Vice Admiral (Ret.) Dick Truly, who served as administrator during the George H.W. Bush Administration as it tried and ultimately failed to win support for the Space Exploration Initiative to take humans back to the Moon and on to Mars.  A former astronaut who left NASA in 1983 to return to the Navy after piloting the second space shuttle mission  (STS-2) and commanding the eighth (STS-8), Truly rejoined NASA as Associate Administrator for Space Flight immediately after the 1986 space shuttle Challenger tragedy and led that return-to-flight effort.  He rose to become administrator when the first President Bush was sworn into office.  He went on to run DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, from which he retired in 2004.
  • Sean O’Keefe, who headed the agency during part of the first term of President George W. Bush. A former Secretary of the Navy, O’Keefe was brought into the George W. Bush Administration as Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), but after a year shifted over to run NASA and get ISS program costs under control, but the 2003 space shuttle Columbia tragedy changed everything. O’Keefe ended up leading the agency as the Bush White House announced the Vision for Space Exploration, another effort to return humans to the Moon and go on to Mars.  The program became known as Constellation, and was cancelled by President Obama, but somewhat resurrected by Congress.  O’Keefe was a close friend of Senator Ted Stevens and, along with his son, was in the 2010 Alaska plane crash that claimed the lives of Stevens and four others on the plane.  O’Keefe and his son, Kevin, were two of the four survivors.  He now is chairman and CEO of EADS North America.

Also on the NRC committee’s agenda are

  • NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver
  • NASA Associate Adminstrator Robert Lightfoot
  • NASA Chief of Staff Dave Radzanowski (who was branch chief for science and space at the Office of Management and Budget during part of the George W. Bush administration)
  • NASA Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati
  • NASA Chief Technologist Mason Peck
  • NASA Associate Administrator for Aeronautics Jaiwon Shin
  • Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force (Space Programs) Richard McKinney
  • George Washington University Research Professor Linda Billings
  • National Air & Space Museum Senior Historian Roger Launius
  • Gregory Kulacki, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Dean Cheng, Heritage Foundation, speaking about China’s space program

Paul Shawcross, current branch chief for science and space at OMB and John Olson of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy are listed as invited, but not confirmed.

The meeting is at the NRC’s Keck Center, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, DC.   Anyone planning to attend is requested to RSVP to Dwayne Day ( so your name can be placed on a list that will make it MUCH easier for you to enter the building.

Editor’s Note:  In the interest of full disclosure, I am a member of this NRC committee.   The agenda is public information and posted on the NRC’s website.

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