Chair Force Engineer

Thursday, July 12, 2007

My Wife & Kids?

I was somewhat surprised to see Scott Horowitz resign as NASA's Associate Admin for Exploration Systems today. Even more surprising is the reason he cites for his resignation: to spend more time with his family.

When public officials cite family as a reason for resignation, it usually means that there are other, more unseemly reasons behind the decision. Example: one of the few politicians I've ever admired, Senator Peter Fitzgerald of Illinois, declined to seek re-election in 2004 to 'spend more time with his family.' Of course, he was facing a stiff re-election challenge, and his party made it clear that they would not support the "maverick" senator.

With that being said, are there ulterior motives behind the resignation of Scott Horowitz? It can't be overstressed that Scott Horowitz has been the single most important proponent of Ares I. Until now, Ares I has been forced to withstand two years of criticism from snarky malcontents like myself. But now the launcher's performance shortcomings are becoming publicly apparent. Orion is just too heavy to be launched by Ares I, unless performance margins are sacrificed and capsule weight drastically reduced.

The departure of Scott Horowitz leaves one question in my mind. Is he leaving so NASA can find somebody else to bring Ares I and Orion back on track? Or is Scott Horowitz stepping aside so NASA can examine an entirely different approach for launching Orion? Michael Griffin's choice for Scott Horowitz's successor will answer the questions behind the departure of the man who fathered Ares I.