SatelliteGate: ‘Sabotage’ at NASA’s Climate Program?

by Bill Chameides | April 1st, 2011
posted by Erica Rowell (Editor)

Permalink | 2 comments

President Obama to make surprise address to the nation tonight.

According to reliable sources at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), President Obama will “level with the American people tonight” in an unscheduled address from the Oval Office. The President, one official told TheGreenGrok, wants to “get the facts out about NASA’s climate program before they are drowned out by blogosphere rumors of sabotage and conspiracy.”

‘No Way That’s a Coincidence’

The SatelliteGate scandal was triggered by two consecutive launch failures at NASA.

In February 2010, NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) satellite crashed and burned shortly after launch. The loss of this $273 million satellite was viewed as a major setback to the nation’s climate program. In the words of Michael Freilich, director of NASA’s Earth sciences division, “OCO was an important mission to measure critical elements of the carbon cycle.”

Then in March of this year, another NASA climate satellite, Glory, failed to reach orbit “in a launch failure eerily similar to one just over two years ago.”

Almost immediately, rumors, claims and counterclaims began circulating in the climate community and in the halls of Capitol Hill.

“I can accept one launch failure,” said Ken Pruf, President of the Federation of Environmental Deans (and other) Divas for a United Planet, FEDDUP, a climate advocacy group. “But two in a row? No way that’s a coincidence.”

Former President George W. Bush was quoted [vid] as saying: “Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

Accusations Fly

Within days of Glory going into the drink, rumors began to circulate within the climate science community that the launch failures were the result of sabotage by a group of radical climate refudiaters.

But, in work that was largely unbeknownst to the public, a highly secretive investigation of the launch failures had already been launched at the NTSB. The details of this investigation were revealed to TheGreenGrok investigative team early this morning in a three-hour long interview with unnamed NTSB officials.

Just like the climate community, NTSB first suspected “refudiater sabotage,” but that theory was quickly dismissed. “We concluded they just didn’t have the technical knowledge to pull off something like that,” said one NTSB’er. “Sabotaging a satellite isn’t rocket science but you gotta know at least a little science.”

But soon another rumor began to get traction. This time from the rufudiater camp, with the Finger (literally) pointing squarely at the climate science community.

In a scalding op-ed, Brent Finger, outspoken climate skeptic and founder of We Like it Hot, wrote:

“They accused us of sabotage, but I predict that when the dust settles it will be revealed that the climate scientists are the saboteurs. Why? It’s obvious. They were afraid the new data would prove them wrong.”

What Finger did not know was that before the ink dried on his op-ed, the NTSB had already considered and ruled out the climate-science-conspiracy theory. The last sentence of a secret NTSB memo released to TheGreenGrok tells it all: “Those scientists — they just don’t have the cojones.”

The Real Facts Come to Light

But, as the nation will learn in President Obama’s address tonight, the satellite failures were not the result of sabotage but budget-cutting smoke and mirrors.

In a secret effort to balance the budget and forestall the growing Tea Party movement, NASA’s funding was slashed. So much so that the agency simply could not afford to launch the OCO or Glory. Rather than announce the missions were canceled, it was decided to simulate or, in the words of an NTSB official, “fake the launchings and their descent into the drink.” The launch simulations were given the code name “No Harm, No Foul.”

How could NASA have thought they could ever get away with something like that? “Well,” the official said, “you tend to get a little overconfident once you’ve successfully faked an entire moon landing.”

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  1. Andrew
    Apr 3, 2011

    You nearly had me. That was a good one.

  2. Jim
    Apr 1, 2011

    I was almost going along with it until the last section. 🙂

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