Getting Along Well

Space-related cooperation between NASA and the Air Force and Intelligence Community has “never been better,” NASA Administrator Michael Griffin told reporters Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Appearing at an event sponsored by the Space Foundation, Griffin said he is very satisfied with the amount of synergy being achieved. “I think we’re cooperating with the Air Force as much as we can without going into each other’s way,” he said. As an example of sharing ideas and expertise, Griffin pointed out that NASA has decided to use the RS-68 rocket engine for its next-generation Ares V heavy lift vehicle. This is the engine that powers the first stage of United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV booster, one of the heavy lift expendable launch vehicles that the Air Force employs to place satellites into orbit. Further, Griffin said, NASA is helping to fund upgrades to the engine that are wanted both by USAF and NASA. The two communities are also working together in hypersonics research and there is quite a bit of cooperation with operational weather sensing through the national polar-orbiting operational environmental satellite system, he said. Griffin said he has met with his counterparts in DOD and Intelligence Community space arenas three to four times a year. He noted that, in the last few years, many of these leaders have worked together and get along very well. “None of us have any excess money, and we are trying very hard to collaborate in ways that allow us to save money,” Griffin said. He added, “We’re not trying to set up Potemkin villages either. We’re not trying to set up sham collaborations … we’re trying to be efficient.” Griffin has led NASA since April 2005. He said he is willing to stay on in his capacity once the new Administration takes power, but has received no such request yet.