NASA is full of engineers and it shows. Give them a direction and leave them alone and they will get it done. However, NASA sure doesn’t have a manager that knows how to handle them. . . And by manager, I mean President.
Nothing against our current Commander in Chief, but he is just another in a long line of Presidents that couldn’t let NASA sit in a corner and produce something amazing. The urge to meddle with NASA must be overwhelming. For instance:
President Obama: Ordered the Augustine commission and then promptly ignored the commission’s advice and radically changed the administration’s goal from human exploration to science and private industry seeding.
President Bush: Told NASA to close down the space shuttle program and directed them to go back to the moon and on to Mars and outlined a broad program known as Constellation. He then promptly chopped their budget.
President Clinton: Tossed out the idea of a purely American space station in favor of a multi-national effort.
President Bush Sr.: Announced a bold plan called the Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) which included a space station, moon AND Mars base. (Who’s crazy now, Newt?)
President Regan: Watch too much Star Wars and decided killer satellites are cool. He was right (they are cool), but it ended up a money pit and was cancelled after America won the Cold War.
President Carter: Like in most other areas of his administration Carter’s impact was, well, not much. In this sense, he could be considered the greatest steward NASA has known in several decades.
President Ford: Two and a half years isn’t a long time to be President, but Ford made the most of it by Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) which only added to nonsense and confusion of politicians.
President Nixon: Nixon was a crook for effectively decapitating the greatest space program in the history of mankind. He did save a few bucks but the plans for a space station and lunar outpost by the late 70’s was destroyed. It has taken the United States over 50 years and it still hasn’t regained the ground lost by Nixon.
The best thing the president can do, either Republican or Democrat, is just LEAVE NASA ALONE! Let the engineers sit in their corner and work on amazing things. I don’t care what direction they go, and neither does anyone else at this point, just let them get it done! Rocket science is hard stuff and takes a while for results. It’s not always good for polls, but it is for progress.