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New NASA Boss: Time To Put Up Or Shut Up

Illustration for article titled New NASA Boss: Time To Put Up Or Shut Up

We may not have proof that new NASA chief nominee Charles Bolden is definitely the man for the job, but in his opening statements to the Senate Committee meeting recently, he did his best to convince us.

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In his opening statement to the Committee, Bolden described a NASA that had lost its way and needed to reassert its purpose:

Today we have to choose. Either we can invest in building up our hard-earned world technological leadership or we can abandon this commitment, ceding it to other nations who are working vigilantly to push the frontiers of space... The nation has to decide where it wants to go. I think it's beyond low-Earth orbit.

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Apparently, President Obama likes to surround himself with those with a similar gift to inspirational speaking as himself. During the meeting, Bolden talked about wanting to improve the efficiency and safety of the space agency, as well as increasing its level of both corporate interests and "the kids":

[In 1980,] I could ask, 'How many of you want to be an astronaut?', and every hand went up... When I go to a school today and ask that question, I may see three hands, and all of them want to go into business.

If approved by the Committee, Bolden's nomination will need final approval by full Senate vote.

NASA nominee says agency has lost its lustre [New Scientist]

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DISCUSSION

NotANumber2
NotANumber

"When I go to a school today and ask that question, I may see three hands, and all of them want to go into business."

In the 80's we were still high on getting to the moon and the idea that an average person could become an astronaut (Christa McAuliffe). Since then we've had the Columbia and Challenger tragedies. NASA has been relegated to glorified satellite and space station repair technicians. There is no longer any mystique, because we aren't going anywhere. There's no drive for further exploration, just studies on how spiders weave a web in zero-g (or some such thing).

You've gotta make space sexy again. That'll drive the funding, which will create jobs, that'll create new technology, and get US kids interested in science again. It'd work on me.