Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jeff Foust Reviews "Gabby"

Mark Kelly with Gabrielle Giffords at a ceremony where Kelly received the Legion of Merit award from Vice-President Joe Biden. Image source: Space.com.

Jeff Foust, the host of the excellent Space Politics blog, has posted a review of the book Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope by Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly.

As you probably know, Rep. Giffords' husband was an astronaut and commander of STS-134.

Click here to read the review.

Jeff's reviews the book specifically from the perspective of Kelly's passages about NASA.

Kelly was not kind, at least when it comes to NASA bureaucracy.

Foust quotes this passage about NASA's reluctance to let Kelly fly after Giffords was wounded in an assassination attempt:

Here’s the thing about NASA. It is populated by a lot of very nerdy smart people. They are drawn to the science of space exploration. A lot of them don’t see inspiration in their job descriptions. Gabby’s story had captured the public interest, and as people debated whether I should return to the mission, they were paying more attention to the space shuttle program. That wasn’t a bad thing. The American people pay NASA’s bills. It was good to have them engaged in what we were doing. But some at NASA considered their interest to be a distraction.

Foust recounts this passage about what happened to Kelly after he returned from his mission:

After the mission, he writes he was asked, as part of his mission debriefing, to “say something negative” about his fellow crewmembers, something he declined to do. “[I]t’s like they want to make sure they have some negative evidence they can point to if they want to deny someone a flight assignment or a specific position or role,” he writes. When he complained about that and the perceived lack of support from the astronaut office at the debriefing, he recalled, one unnamed manager exploded, calling those complaints unwarranted in a time when the shuttle program was winding down and thousands were being laid off. Kelly said he was just trying to get across the point that “the culture within the astronaut office had become rather negative over the last several years.”

Based on Jeff's review, I bought Gabby last night. I'm sure it will be enlightening, although not necessarily a surprise for those who deal with NASA bureaucracy every day.

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