The Full Wiki

Sean O'Keefe: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sean O'Keefe
Born September 27, 1956 (1956-09-27) (age 53)
Nationality American
Occupation CEO, EADS North America [1][2]
Known for Administrator of NASA (2001-2005)

Sean O'Keefe (born May 1, 1956) is the CEO of EADS North America, a subsidiary of the European aerospace firm EADS[1][2]. He is also a former Administrator of NASA, leading the space agency from December 2001 to February 2005. His tenure was marked by a mix of triumph and tragedy, ranging from the tremendous success of the Mars Exploration Rovers to the Space Shuttle Columbia accident.

On February 21, 2005, after resigning from NASA, O'Keefe replaced Mark Emmert as chancellor of Louisiana State University. O'Keefe is also a former member of the board of directors of DuPont. He resigned from LSU on January 16, 2008.[3]

Asteroid 78905 Seanokeefe was named after him in honor of his time as NASA Administrator.[4]


Tenure as NASA Administrator

Sean O'Keefe became NASA administrator on December 21, 2001 after his nomination by President George W. Bush was confirmed by the Senate. Sean O'Keefe's tenure at NASA can be divided into roughly three equal periods, each marked by a single problem or event of overriding importance:

Sean O'Keefe came to NASA with a background as a former Secretary of the Navy and Director of UN. As was the case with a well-respected prior NASA administrator, James Webb, O'Keefe had no formal training in science or engineering. As with Webb, his deputy and senior staff were aeronautics and space experts.

Sean O'Keefe's most controversial decision occurred in January 2004, when he attempted to cancel an upcoming mission by the space shuttle to service the aging Hubble Space Telescope.[5][6][7] O'Keefe claimed that, in light of the Space Shuttle Columbia accident, the mission would be too risky, especially since if the shuttle was damaged while visiting the Hubble, the shuttle would not have enough fuel to dock with the space station as a "safe haven." While supported by members of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) this decision was assailed by numerous astronomers, who felt that the Hubble telescope was valuable enough to merit the risk.[8][9] An earlier, arguably far more controversial choice, was O'Keefe's decision to not expend the funds necessary to re-task a satellite to scan the space shuttle Columbia for damages. The resultant monetary "savings" proved to be vastly more expensive with the loss of the shuttle Columbia and the seven Astronauts.

In late October 2006, O'Keefe's successor, Michael Griffin, reversed the decision, regarding the mission to Hubble, after several years of study. Griffin had previously expressed a willingness to send up a repair mission and to launch the Discovery on July 13, 2005 to the International Space Station (see STS-114). One of Griffin's first actions as NASA administrator was to organize a group at Goddard Space Flight Center to study and prepare for a potential Hubble maintenance mission with the shuttle. After several delays, the final Hubble mission, STS-125 was successfully completed in May 2009.[10] It serviced Hubble's gyroscopes, replaced aging batteries, and installed two new instruments, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and the Wide Field Camera 3.[11]

In 2004, Sean O'Keefe drew some criticism for openly campaigning for a gubernatorial candidate (Riley, AL-R) and a member of Congress (O'Keefe's commercial flight was grounded due to weather and he never attended the event). He defended his action by saying that he was campaigning as a private citizen.

O'Keefe responded to President Bush's Vision for Exploration by hiring retired Navy Admiral Craig E. Steidle who had previously led development of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) as an associate administrator in charge of a new office - Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD). A mission architecture for lunar exploration was developed based on four launches of medium-lift vehicles and four space rendezvous per mission. This mission architecture was immediately scrapped by Michael D. Griffin upon his arrival at NASA. NASA started over with the Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS), sixteen months after the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) had been announced by President Bush. That architecture led to the Ares 1 and Ares V launch vehicles and the Orion Crew Exploration vehicle which are now under development by NASA.

Career before and after NASA

Before his jobs at LSU and NASA, O'Keefe served as Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget from January to December 2001, a job that strengthened his reputation as a "bean counter" — someone who counts every penny.[12]

Prior to that, O'Keefe served as acting United States Secretary of the Navy from 1992–1993 under President George H. W. Bush. Prior to joining the Bush administration, O'Keefe was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy, an endowed chair at the Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He was also a Professor of Business Administration and Assistant to the Senior Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School at Pennsylvania State University.

Before serving as acting Secretary of the Navy, O'Keefe had been Comptroller and Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Defense since 1989. Before joining the Department of Defense, he served on the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations staff for eight years, and was Staff Director of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

O'Keefe lightly discussed his membership in the exclusive Bohemian Club to the Louisiana State University student newspaper The Daily Reveille. As a member of the Wayside Log camp, O'Keefe traveled during July 2005, to visit the famous Bohemian Grove near San Francisco, California.[13]

Tenure as Louisiana State University Chancellor

O'Keefe has been credited with the establishment of the Louisiana State University endowment through the Forever LSU fund raising campaign - his second campaign as LSU's Chancellor. The first, known as "Welcome to the Now (Evo Devo)," was not as successful. He became popular among students for his ability to interact with them, especially during Chats with the Chancellor, that occur across the campus periodically throughout the semesters, as well as his encouraging emails. He announced on January 16, 2008, that February 1, 2008 was his last day as chancellor.[3] To understand the significant scope of this apparently remarkable career it is worthy to note: the bulk of O'Keefe's government career can be traced to Deputy Secretary of Defense John Deutsche, his DOD trainee mentor, who secured O'Keefe a position on the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) staff after he was denied promotion at the Naval Sea Systems Command HQ (NAVSEASYSCOM). O'Keefe's nomination, by his capitol hill mentor, Senator Ted Stevens(R), Alaska, to DOD Comptroller was denied. O'Keefe's subsequent nomination to this same post, by Senator Stevens a few years later, was confirmed. A later nomination to Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) did not pass "acting" status, was not approved for permanent appointment by the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF). O'Keefe held no government post during the Clinton administration. Under George W. Bush, O'Keefe was appointed to the NASA Administrator post.


O'Keefe graduated from Wheeler High School in North Stonington, Connecticut. He then went on to earn his Bachelor of Arts in 1977 from Loyola University New Orleans, Louisiana, and his Master of Public Administration degree in 1978 from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. His wife Laura and children Lindsey, Jonathan and Kevin, reside in northern Virginia.


  1. ^ a b "EADS taps government vet" Politico 10-22-09
  2. ^ a b "EADS North America names Sean O'Keefe as Chief Executive Officer". EADS. October 20, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-16.  
  3. ^ a b O'Keefe resigns as LSU Chancellor
  4. ^ NASA JPL. "78905 Seanokeefe (2003 SK85)". JPL Small-Body Database. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved May 24, 2009.  
  5. ^ STScI. "Servicing Mission 4 Cancelled". Space Telescope Science Institute. Retrieved May 24, 2009.  
  6. ^ Jonathan Bagger. "Future Hubble Servicing Missions Cancelled". The Johns Hopkins University. Retrieved May 26, 2009.  
  7. ^ NASA (January 16, 2004). "Hubble Servicing Mission SM4 Cancelled by NASA Headquarters (Internal Memos)". Retrieved May 26, 2009.  
  8. ^ Robert Roy Britt (March 10, 2004). "Decision to cancel Hubble criticized". CNN. Retrieved May 24, 2009.  
  9. ^ Jeff Foust (March 7, 2005). "Hubble slips away". The Space Review. Retrieved May 24, 2009.  
  10. ^ William Harwood for CBS News (May 20, 2009). "President Obama hails successful Hubble repair". Retrieved May 21, 2009.  
  11. ^ William Harwood for CBS News (May 19, 2009). "Rejunvenated Hubble released from space shuttle". Retrieved May 21, 2009.  
  12. ^ Overbye, Dennis (2008-08-05). "Inside Story of the Telescope That Nearly Wasn't Built". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-05.  
  13. ^ An Elite Alliance
  • The Career and Education portions of this article are based on public domain text from NASA.

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Daniel Howard (acting)
United States Secretary of the Navy
Succeeded by
Frank B. Kelso II
Preceded by
Daniel Mulville (acting)
NASA Administrator
Succeeded by
Michael D. Griffin
Academic offices
Preceded by
Mark Emmert
Chancellor of LSU
Succeeded by
Michael V. Martin


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address