I had to ask a friend today, “Is it me? Have I lost it? Or did NASA just become a touchy feely new-age self help organization seeking Muslim scientists and mathematicians to join them in a group hug?” I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the quote from NASA Chief Charles Bolden stating that his “foremost” mission as the head of America’s space exploration agency is to improve relations with the Muslim world.” According to Fox News, in an interview with Al Jazeera, Bolden said that “strengthening those ties was among the top tasks President Obama assigned him.” He went on to say that “better interaction with the Muslim world would ultimately advance space travel.” According to Bolden he has been charged with the following 3 things;
1) Help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math
2) Expand our international relationships
3) 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 contributions to science and math and engineering
Most disturbing of all was his comment that “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.”
I was stunned. My, how far we have come from that warm July day in 1962 when President Kennedy stated;
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
Still a bit gob smacked by the thought that NASA is venturing into the area of self-esteem building, I harkened back to the Space Act of 1958 to try and see if this group therapy is even permissible according to the Administration’s charter. I was unable to find one mention of the psyches of engineers and mathematicians, but I did find item number 9 of the Declaration of Policy and Purpose to be extremely thought provoking.
“The preservation of the United States pre-eminent position in aeronautics and space through research and technology development related to associated manufacturing”
When I read this, it seems pretty apparent that the current administration is deviating from the charter laid out for NASA and severely compromising American superiority in the area of space flight. They’ve all but acquiesced and said that the good old U.S. can (will) no longer achieve its space flight agenda by itself. Consequently, the pre-eminent position of the United States is no longer assured or even the goal. Former NASA Chief, Michael Griffin, goes further when he states “the space agency’s new goal to improve relations with the Islamic world and boost Muslim self-esteem is a “perversion” of NASA’s original mission to explore space.”
To be fair to NASA Chief Bolden, he is simply carrying out the policy. NASA policy is and always has been set with the administration. So what does this say about the current administration’s view of the purpose of NASA? It is looking more and more as if the administration wishes to make NASA a multi-national, collectivist scientific clearing house. One where there will be no pre-eminent leader, but rather a space United Nations of sorts. The only problem with this is it most assuredly means that the United States will no longer be superior in these vital technologies and NASA will become as dysfunctional as the earth version of the U.N. Additionally, NASA’s charter does not allow this. This is utter foolishness. NASA is and should always be about U.S. space exploration and should never aspire to be an international life coach.