A message from NSS to its members

By Frank Sietzen, Jr.

Editor-in-Chief, Ad Astra magazine

WASHINGTON, JAN. 5 – NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin sees human exploration of Mars within the next three decades “and possibly the database in ten”, but suggests the short-term future of commercial space development “is cloudy”. And Goldin says that he does not yet know if he will be reappointed head of NASA by incoming President George W. Bush.

In a wide-ranging interview conducted over two days, Goldin told Ad Astra readers and NSS members his views on his record-setting eight-plus years as NASA Administrator under two U.S. Presidents and his vision for America’s future in space. In the interview, to be published in full in the March-April 2001 issue of Ad Astra, the magazine of the National Space Society, Goldin expressed pride in what he described as ‘cultural changes’ to the civil space agency brought about since taking office in the spring of 1992. “I have removed the shackles from our employees,” Goldin said. “I have empowed them-and they’re the greatest.”

Goldin predicted astronauts would explore Mars within the next three decades, and possibly even some asteroids. “And if there is a reason, we may go back to the Moon,” he added. But he expressed reservations about the short-term prospects for commercial space. “That boom we all expected has gone bust,” he said. As a result, the next generation in human space transportation “will have to be developed by NASA and the federal government over the next decade”, rather than relying on a purely commercial system. “If you would have asked me five years ago, I would have said ‘you bet’,” Goldin explained. But today “I see a fog in front of me” concerning commercial space. He predicted that a future commercial space transportation industry for humans would be developed “when we lower the cost”, but he could not predict when that would occur.

And Goldin could not predict the fate of his own administration of NASA. When asked if he would be available for reappointment, his answer was “I just do not know”. He said that he would be at his desk at NASA headquarters “until noon on January 20th (inauguration day for President-elect George W. Bush)”, but after that “who knows?” Goldin said.

In other areas, Goldin spoke of his loyalty to Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, how he changed “the culture” of NASA, predicted additional space stations would be developed in the future, talked about his emphasis on safety for all NASA employees and projects, and how he keeps a letter of resignation in his desk at NASA headquarters for use if “I was ever pushed beyond what I thought were the right boundaries,” Goldin said.

The complete interview with Goldin and additional articles of context and analysis on his tenure as NASA Administrator will appear in Ad Astra March 15, 2001 and on the NSS website of http://www.nss.org.

The Goldin interview will appear only in Ad Astra. To get your copy, join NSS now.