Bolden Visits Dryden
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden thanked Dryden employees for their work and asked for ideas and patience in helping NASA reach even greater heights.
At an Oct. 30 all-hands meeting, Bolden assured the Dryden workforce the recently released Augustine report does not include recommendations that would diminish Dryden's mission. The report essentially reviewed NASA's currently chartered space mission and the resources needed to carry it out.
"Put your hearts at rest. Here at Dryden I don't think you're going to be adversely effected by anything in [the] Augustine [Report] and in fact you might be beneficiaries of what comes out of the report," he said.
The Augustine report includes a call for technology development and innovation in areas where Dryden has strengths, Bolden said.
"Augustine talks about enhancements in research and development and enhancements in innovation and technology development - that's what you do. Those were very, very big parts of what came out of the Augustine Report.
"It talked about the need for NASA to get back to the types of research and development we once did and once was our hallmark. It talked about getting back into the field of inspiring young people to want to study engineering, science and math," he said.
One way NASA is looking to help in the mission to inspire young people is by working with the U.S. Department of Education to develop plans for a "Summer of Science," a concept now in the development stages that will be aiming to reach one million junior high school and high school-aged children with events designed to inspire them in science technology, engineering and math, or STEM, studies and careers.
Bolden told Dryden employees they are fortunate to work in a place where a large number of space shuttles have landed and that people all over the world "would give anything to have an opportunity to live one of your days when the shuttle lands here. That's a big deal."
Bolden said that if David McBride has his way, it's possible that the last scheduled shuttle landing could be at Dryden, although more discussion is expected.
Also included in the Augustine Report was a call for developing policy that is coordinated with all the government agencies with an interest or role in space. Then, once a policy direction is hammered out, the job will be to convince President Barack Obama that it is the right path.
Bolden said regardless of how the policy shapes up, one thing is clear: Americans need to learn patience because the mission to Mars might not be realized for decades.
"We are working very hard, but we will not see the fruits of our labors. Few of us will work at NASA when the first person is on Mars," he explained.
David Voracek asked Bolden the possibilities for future X-planes.
Bolden said he would like to see happen to aircraft what happened to rockets, where a flurry of activity led to the Ares I-X launch Oct. 28, the first launch since 1982 of a NASA-built rocket. The rocket carried 700 sensors aboard to record 900 parameters.
"I would like us to build an airplane that gives the nation something that has not been done before," he said.
Bolden said he wants to begin paving the road toward that day by instituting the capability at individual NASA centers to be innovative.
In a related matter, Bolden responded to several full-cost accounting questions that he believed that some of those issues could be worked out.
Bolden emphasized that aeronautics has a role in space work. A Robert McCall portrait of Neil Armstrong with the moon in the background and the X-15 rocket plane, unveiled at the all-hands meeting, showed the connection of aeronautics research that applied directly to Apollo missions.
"Aeronautics is intertwined and interrelated," Bolden said.
Jerry Budd asked Bolden what NASA aeronautics should be doing.
Bolden said aeronautics was on a "great trajectory" with programs such as its NextGen, or Next Generation Air Transportation System, designed to enhance air travel from curb to curb - from the time a person arrives at the airport to the time they return from their destination.
The Next Generation system is a national effort to increase fuel efficiency, save time, reduce air pollution and develop software to help air traffic controllers gain more capability in managing the busy skies, he said.
Regardless of how NASA's mission might change, it will be depending on all of its employees to uphold NASA values and work together to achieve its goals, Bolden concluded.
By Jay Levine