Last weekend, several media outlets reported that the White House was on the verge of nominating former astronaut Charles Bolden Jr. as the administrator of NASA. The only step along the way was supposed to be a meeting between the 62-year-old Bolden and President Barack Obama. The meeting did take place on Tuesday, but a nomination seems unlikely this week.
It's possible that Bolden's past as a lobbyist for ATK, a manufacturer of rocket boosters, and his connection until March 2008 to GenCorp, which provides propulsion systems for the space shuttle, is raising concerns about a possible conflict with Obama's ethics policy. The policy bars appointees from participating in matters involving former clients for 2 years from the appointment date. White House officials have not offered any statements about how the policy might impact Bolden's capability to make decisions as NASA head. There's also no indication on whether the Administration will seek a waiver to enable his appointment, as it has done with some previous appointments.
"We’re soon gonna have a new NASA administrator; I can’t disclose it to you because I’ve got to have some hoopla on the announcement back here on Earth,” Obama remarked yesterday during a congratulatory phone call to the space crew that made repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope earlier in the day.