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NASA: From the Moon to Mecca

From the “you can’t make this up” file, President Obama is turning NASA into his Muslim-outreach agency. According to Fox News, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says that NASA’s foremost mission in 2010 is to improve relations with the Muslim world.

Pause. Re-read. Pause. Huh? Yes. Re-read again.

He went on to say, “[w]hen I became the NASA administrator — or before I became the NASA administrator — [President Obama] charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering.”

Now, reasonable people can disagree about what NASA should be doing and how much we should spend on a national space program. But come on – are you serious?

Now, for my money, I am pro-NASA (when managed correctly) and believe of all the things we can cut from the trillions of dollars we pour down the drain every year, perhaps NASA is worth funding – what with the extent to which our economy and national defense depend on satellites. But that’s ok, the Ruskies and their 11ish spies infiltrating our country can be counted on to hook us up anytime we need to get into space to repair a satellite that won’t quite zoom in on Moscow right? Heck, maybe they’ll “fix” it for us! But I digress. I started off talking about “reasonable” people… sorry…

So, at least Obama is keeping the dreams of our youth alive, you know? Instead of following the Kennedy mold of inspiring a nation by putting a man on the moon within a decade, perhaps President Obama can ask Americans to figure out how to avoid “slipping the surly bonds of earth” via the next suicide bomber?

President Kennedy, in May of 1961 before a joint session of Congress, said the following:

Finally, if we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take… Now it is time to take longer strides–time for a great new American enterprise–time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth…

Recognizing the head start obtained by the Soviets with their large rocket engines, which gives them many months of leadtime, and recognizing the likelihood that they will exploit this lead for some time to come in still more impressive successes, we nevertheless are required to make new efforts on our own. For while we cannot guarantee that we shall one day be first, we can guarantee that any failure to make this effort will make us last. We take an additional risk by making it in full view of the world, but as shown by the feat of astronaut Shepard, this very risk enhances our stature when we are successful. But this is not merely a race. Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others. We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.

On the other hand…

President Obama’s NASA Administrator, while praising the contributions from the Russians and Chinese on the International Space Station, said, “It is a matter of trying to reach out and get the best of all worlds, if you will, and there is much to be gained by drawing in the contributions that are possible from the Muslim (nations).”

According to Fox News, “[Bolden] said the United States is not going to travel beyond low-Earth orbit on its own and that no country is going to make it to Mars without international help,” and “[he] has faced criticism this year for overseeing the cancellation of the agency’s Constellation program, which was building new rockets and spaceships capable of returning astronauts to the moon. Stressing the importance of international cooperation in future missions, Bolden told Al Jazeera that the moon, Mars and asteroids are still planned destinations for NASA.”

Uh-huh. “Planned” in the sense that we hope to hitch a ride with someone else.

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