Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Border Operations

Doc Horowitz, noted for his command of space shuttles and the former head of the Emperor's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, must keep a lawyer close to him at all times. Come along as we take a ride with Doc on the Revolving Door Express!

Way back in 2003, still working out of the astronaut office, Doc served as an advisor for the development of requirements for Ares/Orion. Then, one day he decided to leave the agency and followed some of his buddies out to ATK in Utah. But he must have been there only long enough to get a badge, because the very next day he was back in NASA HQ handing out models of the ARES-1 "stick," courtesy of the proposed first stage supplier, and his new employer, ATK.

How that worked out is a mystery to many. Government employees who help write requirements for new procurements are usually subject to the "revolving door law" which prohibits them from marketing their former government cohorts after leaving government for some period of time, usually a year or two. Just ask the former Air Force requirements official who went to work for one of the other major defense contractors. First he specified the requirements for a missile, then he helped to market one. The government said he should have waited a year to do so. He didn't. Law prevailed.

But there was Doc, a day later, selling his wares.

Now fast forward to 2005. Doc is recalled from ATK to become the Emperor's ESMD chief. Guess who gets the contract for the Ares-1 first stage? ATK, of course.

And now, lets catch up to two months ago. For still unclear reasons, Doc resigns from NASA and rumors abound as to where he will end up. Come to find out he is now employed by the Aerospace Corporation, albeit a not-for-profit outfit. And there he was last month, back at a NASA review for an alternate abort system at LaRC, being paid by our tax money, to pass judgement on a concept he originally sketched on the back of a napkin.

We're guessing his lawyer must have worked for Hunter S. Thompson at some time. How else would anyone have learned to be so clever and keep people with such track records out of jail?

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