They say that Steve Jobs can emit a reality distortion field that causes people, whole audiences, even entire nations to be placed in an hypnotic state that compels them to buy the latest Apple product Steve is talking about. Perhaps.
But it seems that NASA’s leadership also lives in a reality distortion field at headquarters.
We submit, as evidence, this presentation by ESMD Director Mike Hecker at the Exploration of Near-Earth Objects (NEO) Objectives Workshop on August 10th in Washington, DC. As one looks at the NASA slides included in this presentation, it would be easy to be lulled into forgetting that the White House plans for re-wiring NASA are dead, or very nearly so. So strong is this field that it seems to block news of the full Senate passing its version of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, the House Science & Technology Committee passing its version by a wide margin and on a bipartisan basis, and that either of these bills flush the White House plans down the political drain. Indeed, it’s as if the whole of the world outside NASA HQ does not exist.
Unfortunately, it’s a reality distortion field that doesn’t seem to have worked on Congress, NASA center civil servants, Moon walkers, or the American people. We doubt it really works on Mike. Perhaps instead of a RA field, it’s the water in D.C. and being 9 stories up?
We have to note that Mike does a good job of mixing in some gallows humor at around 8:30 in the video when he notes that NASA is generating paper through RFI’s at a furious pace in hopes that it will protect management from a nuclear attack that is being directed from outside of D.C..
NASA headquarters must feel like a pretty lonely place these days. It’s true that many early allies who said they’d fight in the trenches for the new human space flight policy have, with uncharacteristically acrobatic adroitness, instead retreated for safer shores, once again proving the famous dictum in Washington, “If you want a friend, buy a dog.” You can’t blame them too much though. Their people gave them little choice; it was that or become a lonely voice crying-out in the wilderness…along with other madmen.
But we’d like to tell those at NASA’s headquarters to take heart. The battle is almost done, the pain of watching what has been the White House human space flight train-wreck is soon to cease, and our nation to resume its human space flight path in short order. It is said, that which does not kill you only makes you stronger. NASA will, along with our nation’s human space flight program, emerge stronger from this policy debacle and debate. And, we hope, with new focus, and people who can enact that focus.