Bolden talks, Homans walks

NASA administrator Charles Bolden spoke this week at the AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting in Orlando (the first speech by the administrator whose prepared text was posted on the NASA web site since a statement about the rescue of Chilean miners in mid-October). Much of Bolden’s speech was looking back at the shuttle program, but he did devote some comments to the agency’s future, noting that NASA is ready “to vigorously launch the exciting new direction we’ve been given through a strongly bi-partisan Authorization Act.” There’s nothing groundbreaking in his comments, although it may be worth nothing that he devotes a couple of paragraphs to commercial crew and cargo transportation development, and one to the additional shuttle mission authorized in last year’s act, but has only a single sentence about the Space Launch System, the heavy-lift launcher also authorized in the act.

In New Mexico, a change in administrations has cost Spaceport America executive director Rick Homans his job. Homans announced his resignation Wednesday, saying that new governor Susana Martinez (R)–who took office on New Year’s Day–had forced him to either resign or be fired. Homans had expressed an interest in staying on at least through the completion of the commercial spaceport’s construction later this year. Homans had served in several roles for former governor Bill Richardson, including as the state’s secretary of economic development when plans for the spaceport were announced a little over five years ago. The Martinez administration plans to form a search committee to find a replacement for Homans. In comments announcing his resignation, Homans said he’s concerned that the spaceport project could “slow down or fall apart pretty quickly” without a clear show of support for the effort by Gov. Martinez.

Martinez had previously indicated she had formed a “spaceport review team” to study the project, including its contract with anchor tenant Virgin Galactic; that team has received input from, among others, former astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Sid Gutierrez. Thursday, the Martinez administration announced that Schmitt has been nominated to be the state’s secretary of energy, minerals, and natural resources.


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