Remove Mike Griffin As NASA Administrator Now
Michael Griffin was appointed NASA Administrator in April 2005. This is a petition for the Administration to remove Griffin at the earliest opportunity. During Griffin's tenure, NASA has suffered: POOR PROGRAM PERFORMANCE On January 14, 2004, President Bush announced the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE), a response to the Space Shuttle Columbia accident intended to put NASA's human space flight programs on a path to sustainable space exploration. Griffin's decisions have failed, or put NASA on a path to failing, every one of the VSE's key goals. VSE Goal: Develop a new spacecraft, the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), that will start testing by 2008 and will conduct its first manned mission no later than 2014. Griffin: Griffin cancelled the CEV and replaced it with the Orion crew capsule, which will not start flight tests until at least 2014, and will not fly operationally until at least 2015 (and there is only a 65% probability of meeting that schedule). VSE Goal: Retire the Space Shuttle as soon as assembly of the International Space Station is completed, planned for the end of this decade. Griffin: In August 2008, Griffin reversed White House direction and began a study to extend Space Shuttle operations beyond 2010, at a taxpayer cost of $4-5 billion per year, in order to close the flight gap created by the schedule delays associated with Orion. VSE Goal: Starting no later than 2008, initiate a series of robotic missions to the Moon to prepare for and support future human exploration activities. Griffin: Griffin terminated almost all of the Lunar Precursor and Robotics Program. Only one mission remains, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and it will not launch until 2009. VSE Goal: Conduct the first extended human expedition to the lunar surface as early as 2015, but no later than the year 2020. Griffin: Under Griffin's plan, NASA cannot achieve a crewed expedition to the Moon by 2015, and is unlikely to achieve the 2020 deadline. No actual lunar hardware -- a heavy-lift launcher, a lunar-capable Orion, or a lunar lander -- is under development. VSE Goal: Demonstrate power generation, propulsion, life support, and other key capabilities... [and] Use lunar exploration activities... to support sustained human space exploration to Mars and other destinations. Griffin: Griffin terminated NASA's spacecraft nuclear power and propulsion program, most ISS research, and practically all NASA technology development for sustainable human lunar and Mars exploration. VSE Goal: Conduct robotic exploration of Mars... explore Jupiter's moons... [and] conduct advanced telescope searches for Earth-like planets and habitable environments. Griffin: Griffin cut NASA's Mars Exploration Program budget by more than half, terminated NASA's mission to Jupiter's moons, and cancelled all but one of NASA's exoplanet telescopes. VSE Goal: Pursue commercial opportunities... including the acquisition of cargo and crew transportation... to and from the International Space Station [ISS]. Griffin: Griffin has not acquired commercial crew transportation to the ISS. VSE Goal: Pursue opportunities for international participation to support U.S. space exploration goals. Griffin: Griffin has signed no international agreements for foreign contributions to the VSE. DANGEROUS TECHNICAL ISSUES Instead of flying Orion on proven commercial and military launchers, as planned and confirmed by industry for CEV, Griffin instead ordered the development of an unproven and duplicate launcher, Ares I. Ares I's development cost is at least $12 billion, an unnecessary burden on the VSE budget. Worse, Ares I's technical issues will likely delay Orion's first flights to 2017 and cost taxpayers another $7 billion, according to multiple Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reviews. Due to Ares I's technical issues, Griffin has accepted design compromises that pose threats to future astronaut flight safety and have demoralized the NASA workforce, according to GAO, CBO, NASA's own Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, and numerous press reports. These issues include: -- The removal of redundant safety systems from Orion and the Ares I upper stage. -- The deletion of Orion's radiation shielding and ability to avoid water landings. -- Dangerously thin mass margins for Ares I and Orion, especially given their early stage of development. -- Thrust oscillation in the Ares I lower stage that threatens to shake the Ares I upper stage, Orion, and astronauts to the point of non-functionality. -- Flight control issues on Ares I that threaten ground launch infrastructure and remaining mass margins. -- Red/yellow assessments in 7 of 10 technical areas for Ares I during NASA's own Preliminary Design Review. DAMAGING STATEMENTS AND WITHHELD INFORMATION Griffin has made statements that undermine his credibility, damage the NASA institution, and embarrass the Administration that he works for. Four of his most recent examples are: "Arrogant" to View Climate Change as a Threat -- In a May 2007 NPR interview, Griffin argued that it is "arrogant" to view climate change as a threat. White House Science Advisor Jack Marburger disowned Griffin's statement as not "attempting to represent the [Bush] Administration's views or broader policy." Nothing in Safety Database That "Traveling Public Would Care About" -- In January 2008, under Congressional pressure, Griffin released a research database of airline crew safety complaints, claiming it was nothing that the "traveling public would care about", despite obvious implications for airline passenger safety. White House Has Declared a "Jihad" on the Space Shuttle -- In a September 2008 email to top NASA officials, Griffin complained that the Bush White House was on a "jihad" to shut down the Space Shuttle. Griffin later retracted the statement, claiming that it "lacked context". "If You Are Looking Under the Hood, Then You Are Calling Me a Liar" -- When the NASA lead for the Obama transition team asked to "look under the hood" at Griffin's plans, Griffin refused, claiming that, "If you are looking under the hood, then you are calling me a liar." Griffin later issued a press release directing NASA employees to cooperate with the transition team. Please sign this petition if, based on the above and/or other factors, you agree that Mike Griffin should be removed as NASA Administrator. Anonymous signatures by NASA civil servant and contractor employees are welcome.