Relay leadership and long-term policy: The case of Mars

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2 Scopus citations


Space enthusiasts have long yearned for a human expedition to Mars. Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator, declared in 2016 that NASA was “closer than ever before” to the Red Planet. If so, what have NASA Administrators done or not done, and why, to get their agency there? This article investigates “relay leadership” in relation to human spaceflight to Mars since 1989. It seeks to illuminate connections between decision makers across time. The result of leadership actions has been incremental progress, with one sharp “punctuation” point when the Columbia shuttle disintegrated in 2003. After an abortive start under Richard Truly, and in spite of political instability, successive NASA leaders—Daniel Goldin, Sean O'Keefe, Michael Griffin, and Charles Bolden—have moved the agency closer to Mars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalSpace Policy
StatePublished - Nov 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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