Reports: Obama Picks Air Force General as NASA Head

President-elect Barack Obama's made his pick for NASA head — a decorated military man, according to several reports.

Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Jonathan Scott Gration, who uses his middle name, is a career Air Force man who's logged nearly 1,000 hours of combat flight time and been awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Distinguished Service Medal, among many other awards.

The son of missionaries, he was raised in Africa and speaks Swahili.

Reports said an official announcement would be forthcoming Wednesday. The Obama transition team refused's requests to comment on the reports.

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Gration is especially close to Obama, having met the young senator in 2005. He and Obama traveled to Africa together in 2006, and Gration has since been one of Obama's unofficial national-security advisors.

However, unlike current NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, a rocket scientists, Gration has little space experience other than working as a White House fellow in 1982 for then-NASA Deputy Administrator Hans Mark.

Space policy expert John Logsdon told he didn't think that was a problem.

"There are lots of NASA administrators who have come from other areas without a background in space," said Logsdon. "You want a guy who is a leader and can manage a large organization."

Griffin has earned respect from NASA colleagues for his efforts to push forward the broad-ranging Constellation program, which includes a two-vehicle replacement for the retiring space shuttles and plans to return to the moon and go to Mars — all in the face of static NASA budgets and flak from retired NASA personnel.

However, he is viewed as not especially close to either the Bush or Obama teams. He was caught complaining about the former in a leaked e-mail, and has reportedly clashed with the latter.