I just watched a June 30th, 2010 Al Jazeera (Arabic World’s News Agency) interview with Charles Bolden- President Obama’s appointee in charge of our nation’s National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA). In this video interview, NASA Director Bolden says “...before I became the NASA administrator, he (President Obama) charged me with three things, one- he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, (two) 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 contributions to science, math and engineering.”
I understand that this might be a message specifically designed for the Muslim interviewer and his Muslim audience, but even if it is a ‘people pleaser’ statement, it causes me to question our elected and appointed leaders. I have previously blogged concerns about closing down manned space flight, and I wonder why the person in charge of our government’s space agency doesn’t have any immediate direction or goal to explore space. The idea of moving forward with space exploration and science is not even on his radar apparently – the ’Next Big Thing in Science’ doesn’t make his top three goals in any clear formulation.
All of this administraton’s goals are ‘feel good type goals’, although feeling good about things is important, how about some immediate, technology outcomes? Beyond the affective domain, where will human space flight be when you leave office, Mr. President? Are we moving forward or backward?
I guess that covers the 2nd goal that Director Bolden stated - the Obama plan is definitely expanding our international relationships!
So that leaves me to comment on the third goal. Yes, our numaric system is Aramaic. But should our once proud Space Exploration Agency hold up it’s foremost goal to “make them (Muslims) feel good about their historic contributions to science, math and engineering”??!! Please!!!!
“”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 contributions to science, math and engineering.””
NASA Director Charles Bolden
Talk about taking your eye off the ball! The agency that was once the embodiment of the modern American pioneering spirit, the international expert of technological innovation and application, the epitome of scientific endeavor now (under President Obama’s mandate) has as it’s foremost goal to try and make Muslims feel good about their contributions...
I did listen to the rest of the interview, but honestly feel a great deal of cynicsm based on the opening statements. I would probably not have been as upset if even one of the 3 goals that Director Bolden had provided had something to do with the United States showing some immediate leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM) instead of just trying to make people feel good.
How different this President is compared to the President that kicked off this national endeavor...
“The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space.
Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolution, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it--we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.
Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading space-faring nation.”
“We Choose to Go to the Moon”
President John F. Kennedy, 1962
What do you think?
They couldn’t come up with anything significant.
“What is the one thing that makes our school system different from every other school in the world?”
Maybe it was just the fact that I was born in Melbourne Hospital, the son of a space engineer who had begun working on the SpaceCoast in the early 1950’s. The first thing that leaps to my mind was that WE WERE THE SPACECOAST! And I got to stay up late to see Neil Armstrong on the moon.
Maybe as a nation we have had so many things that our media tells us we should be ashamed of, that we have forgotten what we should be proud of.
Maybe our entertainment / virtual reality movies, games, tv shows have become so good that we have lost a sense of being amazed when solid rocket boosters hurl living beings several hundred miles above the earth.
Our sense of adventure in space was seared by the last two shuttle accidents.
The many benefits of Space Exploration and the inventions of space related-technologies (velcro, metal alloys used in sporting events, insulating blankets, etc.) have virtual no popular association with the Space Program.
Our culture’s heros have changed. We no longer honor our astronauts as explorers and hero’s, we only see them in the news when they are part of a scandalous love triangle.
I don’t really know what it is... or maybe it is all of those reasons and more. All I know is that the students never identified the brand of their school with the location of being on the SpaceCoast. And now we are down to a very uncertain future as the SpaceCoast. Two more launches of the Space Shuttle are scheduled and there is no manned launch program in the plans. In fact, the once proud US of A is going to rent seats on a Russian space craft whenever have a need to get to the Space Station or the Hubble.
What seemed like a futuristic, high tech name for a blog has become a historical reference of antiquity. Maybe I need to reexamine my brand...
Ed Tech Thoughts from the Spacecoast