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New Contender for NASA Administrator: Ret. USAF Gen. Lester L. Lyles February 10, 2009

Posted by Nick Azer in African-American History, Apollo, Civil Rights, NASA, Obama, Theatre.

Despite Gen. Scott Gration having been an apparent early leader for the role of new NASA Administrator, reports have been indicating that there is a new frontrunner for the job: Retired USAF Gen. Lester L. Lyles.

Early murmurs surfaced at NASA Watch, and culminated in an article from the Wall Street Journal (with some excellent additional coverage to be found over at Space Politics).

According to the WSJ article, opposition from key Democratic leadership (including Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, an avid space supporter and congressional NASA expert, pictured above with President Obama before the November election) arose over Gen. Scott Gration’s lack of space experience.

Gen. Lyles, pictured above and at top, has a great wealth of space experience, including being a member of a 2004 Presidential commission on how to get us back to the Moon and Mars.

I recently saw an excellent play, written by Nancy Keystone, called “Apollo” (at the Portland Center Stage), about some of the societal and ethical costs of the birth of the American space program–the third part of the play exploring African-Americans, our country’s slave history, and the relation of those to the Huntsville, Alabama location of the Marshall Space Flight Center (key to Apollo development) during the 1960’s, height of both the Civil Rights Movement and the space race (with the first two parts exploring ethical considerations of the history of Nazi engineers with rocketry and NASA).

While the play currently doesn’t include anything on the recent election of President Obama (and his space dreams), I found it interesting in context that it’s, in fact, an African-American President that will be carrying the significance of space in America (both private and government) forward into bold new territory. If Lester L. Lyles were to become the NASA administrator under President Obama in this central and historical stage of mankind’s space development, this poignant shift becomes even more marked as we progress into a promising new era.

For some video of Gen. Lyles, below is a Youtube video of him recieving an Engineering award (his speech beginning at 6:00):



1. NASA Administrator Nomination Delay: Ares I Rocket’s Future in the Political Balance? « Luna C/I: Moon Colonization and Integration - February 19, 2009

[…] variety of administrator candidates (including retired generals Scott Gration and more recently, Lester L. Lyles) have been floated lately, with President Obama himself stating that the list of names was down to […]

2. Obama’s NASA Administrator List Thinning With Appointments « Luna C/I: Moon Colonization and Integration - March 22, 2009

[…] leaves two candidates, barring any dark horses: Lester L. Lyles, and Sen. Bill Nelson’s favorite, Charles Bolden–a former astronaut and Deputy […]

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