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Goldin, Daniel Saul

GOLDIN, DANIEL SAUL

GOLDIN, DANIEL SAUL (1940– ), U.S. space administrator. New York-born and Bronx-bred, Goldin earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the City College of New York in 1962. Inspired in his freshman physics class by a professor's blackboard reminder ("Sputnik is watching you") as the Russians orbited the world's first artificial satellite, Goldin directed his attention to space. After graduation, he applied to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, newly created amid the East-West space race. He joined nasa's Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, because, he said, "they were working on electric propulsion for going to Mars." His work led to a major discovery. The ion engine he was working on for space propulsion could be converted to a radio transmitter powerful enough to beam television signals from a satellite to Earth, speeding them across thousands of miles of space. His advancement of that idea eventually won a United States patent and helped give birth to direct-broadcast satellites, which increasingly circle the Earth.

In 1967 Goldin was hired by the conglomerate trw, a maker of military and civilian spacecraft. He moved to its California divisions and stayed there for 25 years, rising through the ranks to become vice president and general manager. He led projects that conceptualized and produced advanced communication spacecraft, space technologies, and scientific instruments. Between 1976 and 1983 he managed several top-secret programs involving such projects as spy satellites. During that period, trw was the prime contractor on photographic spy satellites, then the nation's most powerful. The company also developed a satellite known as Magnum, which, instead of using a camera, unfurls a giant antenna in space to monitor missile tests, radio, telephone, radar, and other military and diplomatic communications. Under his stewardship, TRW also built early warning and communications satellites as well as scientific probes like nasa's Gamma Ray Observatory.

Goldin was selected by President George H.W. Bush in 1992 to become the ninth head of nasa. His appointment was seen as a way to shake up an agency that the administration found unresponsive to its direction. Goldin arrived when nasa had been in a tailspin since the 1986 Challenger disaster, which killed seven astronauts, including a high school teacher. Its wobbly state became apparent two months after his nomination when balky hardware aboard the space shuttle Endeavor forced three astronauts to reach out with nothing but their gloved hands to snare a wayward satellite in space. After that Goldin ordered a study to see if added rehearsals and training were needed for the agency's greatest impending challenge, repair of the $1.6 billion Hubble Space Telescope. Eventually, shuttle astronauts conducted a record three preparatory space walks. In December 1993, with Bill Clinton as president, the repair went with surprising ease, giving the agency a major boost in confidence. Goldin's tenure at nasa lasted through nine months of the administration of President George W. Bush, to November 2001; he was its longest-serving administrator.

Over the nine years of his administration, with lower budgets, Goldin initiated a "faster, better, cheaper" approach that included aggressive management reforms. The human space flight funding was reduced from 48 percent of the agency's budget to 38 percent and funds for science and aerospace technology were increased from 31 to 43 percent. The civil service workforce was reduced by about a third, while the headquarters civil service and contractor workforce was reduced by more than half, all without forced layoffs. In space exploration, he initiated the Origins Program, to understand how the universe has evolved, to learn how life began, and to see if life exists elsewhere. He was a vigorous proponent for increased exploration of Mars and established a series of robotic missions to visit the planet every two years over a decade. The missions, designed to determine if life and water may have existed on Mars, featured planetary rovers, penetrators, and sample returns. Goldin also played a pivotal rote in redesigning the International Space Station. Starting with the Space Shuttle program, Goldin established a goal to transfer day-today space operations to the private sector. He was also instrumental in promoting cooperative endeavors with the Russian Space Agency to the point where Russia became a full partner in the International Space Station program.

After leaving nasa in 2001, Goldin engaged in robotics research at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, Calif. In November 2003, Goldin was selected by Boston University, the fourth largest private university in the United States, to succeed its longtime president and chancellor, John Silber. However, shortly before his inauguration, the university trustees withdrew its contract offer, which called for a salary of $600,000 for five years and had other provisions. Goldin threatened to sue. The university settled with Goldin for a reported payment of $1.8 million.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]

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