Team Donald Trump has announced more members of the NASA transition or “landing” team that will embed itself into the Space agency and ferret out what kind of issues need to be addressed by the incoming president’s political appointees, including his pick of an administrator, according to Space News. The team is an eclectic group of academics, including Greg Autry of the University of Southern California and Jack Burns of the University of Colorado, former NASA employees, including Steve Cook of Dynetics, Rodney Liesveld, and Sandra Magnus of the AIAA (also a former astronaut.

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Jeff Waksman is listed as formerly being affiliated with the United States House of Representatives as a research fellow.

Of course, the selection of these new members has sparked a great deal of tea-leaf reading about what it all means. Keith Cowing is pretty sure that since Christopher Shank, previously named, Cook and Liesveld were all associated with former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin, that must mean that Griffin is plotting a return to NASA.

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An alternate explanation is that anyone who worked for NASA in the previous Bush administration would have likely known Griffin as he was Bush’s space agency head. In any case, Defense Daily is reporting that Griffin is interested in becoming Secretary of the Air Force.

Cook’s presence on the team has raised some hackles in the commercial space fan base. When he was last at NASA, Cook worked on the Ares 1 and Ares 5 rockets that were going to be at the center of the Constellation program before it was canceled by President Barack Obama.

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Currently, Cook is working on the AR-1 rocket engine that may replace the Russian-built RD-180 on United Launch System’s next generation rocket. Cook is seen as favoring the heavy lift Space Launch System, which some in the commercial space fan community would like to see scrapped.

Burns, according to Cowing, is a supporter of a return to the moon, another sign that putting astronaut boots on the lunar surface will be a top priority for the incoming Trump administration.

The Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft, now being developed for the Journey to Mars, will likely be crucial elements for such an undertaking.

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