Well, it's that time of year again, the end of it, that is! Did you have a good 2008, despite the financial crisis and other world events?
Of course, one of the most significant events was the election of a new US President, who will take office in just a few weeks. He will face challenges for sure, but the general mood of the country, indeed the world, seems to be one of cautious optimism. Even Russian President Medvedev is on record as being positive about improved relations with the United States.
In the narrow area of space exploration, which greatly interests me, what will happen? The biggest question is who will lead NASA? It seems highly unlikely that Mike Griffin will be asked to stay on, but will the new Administration have NASA high enough on its priority list to make a decision quickly? One of my astronaut colleagues actually made a bet with me that Griffin will be asked to stay on. I understand that another of my colleagues started a keep Mike petition online, and it appears that Mrs. Griffin has also sent out emails urging support for her husband (please see www.nasawatch.com).
All very interesting and surreal. I personally doubt that Mike will be asked to stay. But, I've been wrong before!
What is going to happen to NASA? I don't know, nor do I have any insider information. I do think that whatever happens, NASA will be dramatically changed. This is more of a feeling than anything else.
I am worried that NASA will lose its place as the world leader in manned space flight. Russia will, by default, become the leader after the Space Shuttle is retired in 2010. China is coming up fast.
What do you think?