Trump sent an “experience landing team” to NASA.
President-elect Trump has sent “landing teams” to some of the major federal agencies in order to assist in the transition to the new administration. The NASA landing team consists mainly of people who have experience working for or with NASA.
Leading the team is Chris Shank, who worked as NASA’s director of strategic investments from 2005 to 2009. Until recently, Shank served as policy director for the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, and prior to that, he was deputy chief of staff for Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the committee.
Other members of the transition team include former NASA astronaut Sandra Magnus, who flew to space three times and has been executive director of The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics since 2012; and Steve Cook, who was in charge of the Ares 1 and Ares 5 rocket programs at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and has also worked in the industry since leaving NASA.
The benefit of an experienced landing team is that the current NASA employees “can skip the ‘NASA 101′ lesson and dive right into a lot of the details” of various programs, according to Jeff Foust, a senior writer at SpaceNews. (SpaceNews is a Space.com syndication partner.) Foust spoke during a session focused on the presidential transition at the 229th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Grapevine, Texas, earlier this month.
Foust also noted that the transition team members’ opinions do not necessarily reflect the stances that the Trump administration will take on issues pertaining to NASA.
Recently, Robert Lightfoot, NASA’s associate administrator, announced that some of the transition team members will remain at the agency past Jan. 20. (Typically, transition teams depart once the president-elect is sworn into office.)