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STANFORD -- Bradford W. Parkinson, professor of aeronautics and astronautics and program manager of the Gravity Probe B project, has been appointed head of the NASA Advisory Council, the group that provides the space agency with independent advice and guidance on the major program and policy issues that it faces.
The council, which consists of about two dozen members selected by the NASA administrator, directs the space agency's advisory structure. It oversees the activities of eight other standing advisory committees that offer advice on such issues as space science, aeronautics and technology commercialization.
"NASA is going through a tough time right now," Parkinson said. "I believe that there is a real need for significant changes at the agency, and I think that [NASA administrator] Dan Goldin has shown the ability to make the hard decisions that are needed. He has a vision for the agency that I think is pretty much right on, and I'm prepared to do what I can to help him overhaul NASA so it comes out shiny bright."
Parkinson is no stranger to NASA and its problems. The Gravity Probe B project he manages is a space shuttle mission being developed to provide one of the most stringent tests yet of Einstein's general theory of relativity. He recently has served on two NASA advisory committees: one that recommended solutions to the problems of the Hubble space telescope and one that is studying the redesign of the space station. He also is a member of National Academy of Engineering's Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, which is chartered to keep tabs on NASA programs.
Members of the NASA council are appointed for two-year terms and may serve for a maximum of four years. The group generally meets in Washington, D.C., quarterly. Members are not paid for their work but are compensated for expenses.
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