Video: NASA to Obama: Out of my space!

updated 12/11/2008 10:16:35 PM ET 2008-12-12T03:16:35

A firestorm of words has erupted over an Orlando Sentinel report about NASA Administrator Michael Griffin's relationship with President-elect Barack Obama's transition team.

The Sentinel reported Thursday that Griffin was "not cooperating" with the transition team. The newspaper said that "Griffin is scripting NASA employees and civilian contractors on what they can tell the transition team and has warned aerospace executives not to criticize the agency's moon program."

"Griffin's resistance is part of a no-holds-barred effort to preserve the Constellation program, the delayed and over-budget moon rocket that is his signature project," according to the Sentinel report, written by staff writers Robert Block and Mark K. Matthews.

Griffin reacted to the report on Thursday, calling it "simply wrong."

"I am appalled by any accusations of intimidation, and encourage a free and open exchange of information with the contractor community," Griffin said. "I would like to reiterate what I have stated in a previous email to all NASA officials: We must make every effort to 'lean forward,' to answer questions promptly, openly and accurately."

The Sentinel report quoted NASA's chief of strategic communications, Chris Shank, as acknowledging that Griffin felt the transition team members dealing with NASA lacked the engineering expertise to make a proper assessment of some of the information they have been given.

Obama's transition team for NASA is headed by Lori Garver, a former NASA associate administrator. Other team members include Ed Heffernan, Alan Ladwig and Roderic Olvera Young, all of whom held posts at the space agency before Griffin took over in 2005; George T. Whitesides, executive director of the National Space Society; and Cate Brandon, a Penn law student who worked for the Obama campaign in Philadelphia.

The Sentinel reported that Griffin had a "heated 40-minute conversation" last week with Garver. Shank, however, denied that there was an argument.

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