Some info here:
And here (the time piece is very much worth-reading):
Some may recall that during the election campaign, Obama said he would finance his education plans by cutting funding to NASA (rofl).
Apparently, Obama has sent the ultra-unqualified Lori Garver (she has zero engineering experience) to head his space transition team, and she's going in with an attitude of looking for places to cut - keeping up with his election promise perhaps? She wants current launch rockets refitted to allow manned flights on those rockets, rather than designing a new shuttle. NASA boss Griffin sees this as unsafe and apparently demanded to see Obama himself.
Here are the comments I wrote as a response on the astronomy blog cosmic variance:
"Where do you guys think JFK's vision would have ended up if Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon had decided to cancel the previous guy's ideas, and focus on his pet projects?
Bill Clinton cancelled a lot of progress, and under him there was a lot of focus on JIMO, the Jupiter Icy Moons Observer, which would have been a great idea. It was to rely on high energy nuclear electricity, increasing scientific capacity. Under Bush II, great ideas like JIMO, and also TPF, SIM and Sofia have gone by the wayside, to focus on the ideas of appeal to his people, going back to the moon and mars, permanently.
Now Obama is going to cancel that progress, and start some new ideas from scratch, which might be very good ideas in and of themselves exactly like the Clinton and Bush II directions. And then they can accumulate some progress and consume $50 billion, and then be cancelled in 8 years by the next president whose team will pursue its own vision. Nothing will ever get done with these childish competitive attitudes.
The best bet would be for Obama to allow them to continue on their present path, and to give a marginal increase in funding to do other things."