Tuesday, July 06, 2010

NASA may as well engage in group therapy ...

... since it won't be putting Americans in space any longer.

Obama's NASA apparatchik Charles Bolden outlined Obama's goals for NASA on Al Jazeera:

I am here in the region - its sort of the first anniversary of President Barack Obama's visit to Cairo - and his speech there when he gave what has now become known as Obama's "Cairo Initiative" where he announced that he wanted this to become a new beginning of the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world. When I became the NASA Administrator - before I became the NASA Administrator - he charged me with three things: One was that he wanted me to re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, that 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 predominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering."
For those that don't want to read the full quote, Obama's goals for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are:

  1. Get children to do their math and science homework
  2. Make the world love us
  3. Make Muslims feel good about their contributions to science, math and engineering

No mention of aeronautics or space. No wonder Obama has moth-balled efforts to for more US manned space vehicles - that has nothing to do with his stated goals for NASA.

TPM attempts to spin this to the Administration's benefit, but I don't see how this helps:

At issue is an interview NASA administrator Charles Bolden gave to Al Jazeera while on a trip to Quatar[sic] recently. The interview came as Bolden was in the Middle East to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Obama's Cairo speech, where he called for renewed ties between the U.S. and Muslim nations around the world.
NASA spokesperson Bob Jacobs told me that any suggestion that Bolden was describing a new mission for NASA in the interview was false. NASA will still spend its time exploring the cosmos and advancing aeronautics, he told me.

"I think unfortunately this has gotten caught up in some political rhetoric," Jacobs said.

Jacobs said he is "not aware" of any "specific efforts" to include Middle Eastern know-how in future space projects "at this point" -- but said that since the Muslim world is "part of the international community," it made sense that Bolden would refer to the area when discussing the administration's plans to leverage international cooperation for the future of the space program.

"The interview took place in Qatar," Jacobs said. "I don't think it would be strange that he would make a specific reference to a local audience in his remarks."
Why is the Administrator of NASA in the Middle East working on a strictly political mission? Moreover, if NASA is NOT looking to add "Middle Eastern know-how" to future projects, then the NASA Administrator has even less reason to be in the Middle East.

One wonders if the State Department will now be in charge of developing new spacecraft. That would make at least as much sense.


Side note: Do those Arab Muslims have any know-how worth exploiting? NASA doesn't seem to think so. However the commenters at TPM seem to think that Muslims inventing Algebra means that they are critical to the NASA effort. But the last Arab Muslim contribution to engineering had something to do with finding the critical stress loads at which large structures lose integrity. Yeah, that's the critical kind of help the US space program needs....

1 comment:

sharon said...

That's a great effort! Nowadays, children are very likely to avoid STEM subjects. I don’t understand why they do so. Besides parents, online tutors are best persons to encourage students to give attention to such subjects. There are several online tutoring services available to help students across grades for a very nominal cost. Some of them specialize in STEM subjects, for instance, tutorteddy.com. Students with difficulties in math or science can try it.