Letter: Personal Attack on Griffin Crosses Line

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“Always attack the problem, not the person, during an anomaly resolution.” Throughout my career, I have been trying to learn, teach and apply this important humble lesson.

I am tremendously disappointed in Space News for printing such a blatant personal attack on a former NASA administrator as “Mike Griffin’s Constellation Zombie” [Commentary, Oct. 25, page 19]. The author has every right to attack and debate policy and technique. However, his personal attack and his statements implying corruption and collusion with contractors without substantiation are not appropriate for any professional publication.

Some of the more incredibly silly statements:

  • Implying Mike Griffin is in the pockets of Alliant Techsystems and Lockheed Martin. This is beyond outrageous. There are so many checks and balances within the government procurement cycle that the very idea is deplorable not only with regard to Mr. Griffin’s personal dignity but to the procurement professionals within NASA and the U.S. government. If the author has firm evidence regarding such allegations, I suggest he pursue these with the Justice Department, not Space News.
  • “Das National Rocket” and “Griffinistas.” Painting the Constellation program as some sort of Nazi Peenemunde and those implementing it as Nicaraguan Sandinistas (a la 1982-1988) has too many negative connotations to even fathom. One should remember that the NASA budget and content are controlled by the U.S. president and Congress. The last time I checked, there was not a Swastika flag flying over the Capitol Dome or death squads in NASA headquarters.
  • Although the value of the Aries rocket program can and should be debated, a “fiasco” and “smoke-and-mirrors mock-up” cannot launch and maintain attitude up to 60 kilometers. I believe this idea can be further substantiated by recent rocket entrepreneurs within the United States. In addition, referring to Constellation as a “monster” that “failed, utterly and completely,” and implying it is more or less a white-collar welfare program, is a slap in the face of numerous hard-working engineers and technicians across the United States.
  • Mr. Griffin’s “temerity.” I had to look it up, being just an engineer and not an orator. This “audacity, fearless daring or foolhardy disregard of danger” that the former NASA administrator supposedly displayed “to run around Washington invoking President [George W.] Bush’s well-meant goal” is his right as a citizen of the United States — I think it is called free speech.
  • “Old technology.” One may want to look at Starsem and the highly successful Soyuz rocket upon which the United States is now heavily dependent.
  • Green thoughts. When a policy argument turns to the environment and “outdated, polluting and dangerous anti-frontier” solid rockets, immediately the flag should be raised. 
  • My goodness. Does the author have a system in mind for achieving escape velocity in a more simple and reliable fashion?
  • “Constellation is dead”; long live the Constellation. I would recommend the author provide some more substantiated ideas toward keeping the dream alive. The final statement is the type of nebulous, meaningless hogwash that squanders billions of dollars among government agencies and studies: “Instead, this time, we will build what we need to go where we need to go, and do it affordably and in a way that will allow us not only to explore but to stay.” Have we heard this before?

In the future, can we as an industry “attack the problem and not the person during a policy anomaly resolution?” It would lead to more constructive relationships among all the players with dignity, and we would break far fewer windows within our respective glass houses. I can only hope the editors of Space News will apply a little more publishing discretion so that I never have to respond to such nonsense again.

 

Bob Morris

Biot
, France

 

The writer has worked in the space industry since 1985 on various defense, civil and commercial programs.