NASA administrator Mike Griffin is so worried that Barack Obama might cut funding for the Constellation moon/Mars program that he's put America's space agency on red alert and raised the deflector shields to maximum — all in hopes of preventing the new administration from reconsidering NASA's funding priorities. The Orlando Sentinel's blog reports the whole story in superb detail, but here's a condensed snippet:
In a heated 40-minute conversation last week with Lori Garver, a former NASA associate administrator who heads the space transition team, a red-faced Griffin demanded to speak directly to Obama, according to witnesses.
In addition, Griffin is scripting NASA employees and civilian contractors on what they can tell the transition team and has warned aerospace executives not to criticize the agency’s moon program, sources said. [...]
The tensions are due to the fact that NASA’s human space flight program is facing its biggest crossroads since the end of the Apollo era in the 1970s. The space shuttle is scheduled to be retired in 2010, and the next-generation Constellation rockets won’t fly before 2015.
Nearly four years ago, President Bush brought in Griffin to implement a plan to return astronauts to the moon by 2020 as a prelude to going to Mars. Griffin and his team selected Constellation, with its NASA-designed Ares I rocket and Orion capsule, as cheaper and safer than existing rockets. Constellation – especially Ares 1 -- is the center of what Griffin sees as his legacy to return humans to the frontiers of space.
NASA Has Become a Transition Problem for Obama (Orlando Sentinel blog post)