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The NASA Administrator Nomination Delay: Ares I Rocket’s Future in the Political Balance? February 19, 2009

Posted by Nick Azer in Ares I, Ares V, NASA, Obama.

The Houston Chronicle has an article up about how a political battle over the future of the Ares I rocket (and whether to replace it with the currently operational Atlas V and Delta IV rockets) is delaying President Obama’s nomination of a new NASA administrator to succeed Mike Griffin.

It appears there’s a pretty grand tug-of-war going on, as various elements see the change in NASA administratorship as an opportunity to change the agenda in their favor. Everyone from the United Launch Alliance to Sen. Bill Nelson has been getting into the thick of things, complicating things for Obama.

“Selection of a new administrator has taken longer than some expected, [John] Logsdon said, because “the White House knows how tricky it will be to get an independent and trustworthy judgment from a new administration given the vested interests on all sides of this issue.” – “Search for NASA Chief comes under political influence“, Stewart M. Powell, Houston Chronicle

A 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 four.

NASA has  sunk $13.6 billion into the Ares rocket development so far–seems like it might be a shame that abandon that much development.

One angle with the Ares program that I have a somewhat strong opinion on is actually the name–while Ares makes sense in relation to Mars, Ares mythologically is the god of bloodshed. So, our rocket carrying living human colonists, to planetary bodies with other nations colonizing, is going to named after the avatar of bloodshed? To me, that’s similar to the Mayflower having been instead called, say…the Black Death:P Something of an ill omen, in my opinion, especially with all the other names they could have chosen. Might as well call the lunar base ‘Roanoke’ or ‘The Alamo’.

Regardless, I personally expect that despite all the manuevering around the Ares rockets’ future, their development will continue–the negative PR might just be too counter to Obama’s goals of inspiration and progress, and could handicap positive public interest in American space programs.

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