NASA chief announces plan to transform agency

  1. Just been spending some time surfing the 'net and reading a few articles centered around space exploration and NASA. As stated in a few other threads, I hold interest in the topic of space and space exploration. Heck! My loving wife has said more than a few times that I'm quite spaced-out sometimes! :imbar :chuckle But I do find this topic both interesting to read and discuss.

    Now for those of you who know my points of view regarding politics including the current administration of this fine country, I want you (and especially those who are stead-fast supporters of President Bush) to sit down, hold tight and brace yourself for a "far out" revelation. I actually agree with Bush on one account. (Yikes! ) I think that we should devote a certain amount of our time, resourses, capital and talent towards venturing out into space and exploring the Moon, Mars and beyond. I hold a number of reasons for this opinion. One, space is cool! There's lots of stars and planets and neat things to find and see. Two, I believe that it is human kind's nature to explore and learn. Space exploration is becoming THE "final frontier" left to explore. It just seems like the next logical step for human kind to take in our evolutionary process of learning and exploring. Three, space exploration can act as a kind of catalyst to help focus the attentions of many countries towards something positive. Four, there is an apparent endless amount of resourses "out there" that could be mined and used as building materials, energy, etc, for the ever shrinking world that we live on.

    I dearly want to see NASA survive. I believe it to be an important tool for our country to further explore not only space, but all of the technologies derived from space missions that can be used so commonly in our day to day lives. And besides, maybe someday even I can go visit the "final frontier", look back at our dear planet that we call Earth, and see the wonderous beauty that only a few can see at present.

    NASA chief announces plan to transform agency

    By Michael Coren
    Thursday, June 24, 2004 Posted: 8:20 PM EDT (0020 GMT)

    (CNN) -- NASA's vision to explore the moon and Mars moved forward Thursday with a restructuring effort to streamline the agency's bureaucracy and support an independent private space industry.

    Sean O'Keefe, NASA's chief, announced the plan to remake NASA into a "sustainable and affordable" organization that was once-again renowned for its innovation, courage and entrepreneurial spirit.

    "Transforming the way we do business [requires] very specific efforts," he said. "We have to develop an respond more rapidly to changing events."

    One of the most immediate changes -- which goes into effect August 1 -- will divide NASA's strategic offices into "Mission Directorates" in four areas: aeronautic research, science, exploration systems and space operations.

    It also established two new positions -- a chief safety and education officer -- to address those priorities, especially in the aftermath of space shuttle Columbia's destruction. The chief safety and mission assurance officer will report directly to the NASA administrator.

    An independent commercial space sector -- which has failed to materialize under NASA patronage -- is also expected to play a major role in future space operations.

    O'Keefe said NASA has to ensure "not just an invitation to collaborate, but a necessity to collaborate" with the private sector. Aerospace companies are expected to assume many non-manned space responsibilities as NASA turns its attention to the moon and Mars.

    No specific timeline or budget figures were offered for the plan. However, O'Keefe used the example of the Apollo era -- when NASA underwent organizational changes every year -- as a model for today's transformation.

    "This is a work in process," said O'Keefe. "Any transformation is evolutionary."

    He said the agency had already begun aligning itself with goals laid out in Bush's Vision for Space Exploration this January.

    That initiative directs NASA to retire the shuttle program by 2010, develop a new manned exploration vehicle, establish a lunar program with a manned base around 2020 and prepare for a manned-mission to Mars.

    Other organizational changes announced include a simplified hierarchal structure consolidating many NASA offices under several chief officers. Details of the changes were released on NASA's Web site Thursday.

    NASA's announcement came after the presidential panel examining the U.S. Space Exploration Policy released its report "A Journey to Inspire, Innovate, and Discover," on June 16. That commission held months of hearings to recommend sweeping changes in the agency.

    It suggested handing over almost all routine non-manned space operations such as servicing missions and low Earth orbit launches to the private space industry. The panel said NASA should only be involved with human space flight and operations unable to be preformed by the private sector.

    It also recommended making some NASA research centers into federally funded facilities run by universities or the private sector, such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory managed by the California Institute of Technology.

    O'Keefe said the agency was considering the panel's recommendations.

    "The approach we've taken is to look at those recommendations and to see how and if they will be implemented," he said. "A lot of information must be gathered to make informed judgments."
    Last edit by Ted on Jun 25, '04
  2. 1 Comments

  3. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Interesting story, Ted. I too, would like to see NASA survive, however I also want to see we expend at least as much energy, manpower and money in preserving our home, Earth. JMO. But yes, we need to explore and learn. What is out there can teach us more about the planet we inhabit and the universe around us, to be sure. But we need to keep the "homefires" burning, for lack of better words. Sorry, it's rather early here. Aligning with private sector companies and universities, to me, is a wise move whose time has come, indeed!