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Fri, Aug 18, 2006

Advisors Who Questioned NASA Priorities Leaving Agency

Two Asked To Resign, Third Leaving On His Own

NASA denied this week three advisors who spoke out against budget cuts to the agency's science programs were forced to resign.

Wesley Huntress, Charles Kennel and Eugene Levy were members of the restructured NASA Advisory Council, which met last November in an attempt to balance NASA's desire to return to the moon with the agency's less glamorous scientific research.

The Associated Press reports Kennel resigned by choice... but that NASA Administrator Michael Griffin asked Huntress and Levy to clean out their desks.

Levy, a physics and astronomy professor as well as provost at Houston's Rice University, said the men's commitment to scientific research didn't jibe "with the kind of advice that the administrator and the chairman of the committee were looking for."

NASA press secretary Dean Acosta denied the implication the resignations were an act of retribution.

"I don't want to give the impression that these guys were outspoken and that's why they were asked to leave because that's not the case at all," NASA press secretary Dean Acosta said Thursday. "The administrator is looking for ... members to advise him based on the priority that the agency has and based on what our parameters are."

As Aero-News has reported, NASA has come under protest by many in the scientific community -- and its own employees -- for limiting growth in its science budget, in order to cover the costs of completing the International Space Station... as well as for sending astronauts back to the moon by the end of the next decade.

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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