FEBRUARY 17, 2010
A few weeks after killing the U.S.A.’s world-famous moon-mission program, President Obama has ordered the space agency that operates it to focus on reaching out to Muslim countries.
Indeed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) mission will shift from space exploration to Muslim diplomacy, as per the commander-in-chief’s orders. When Obama announced earlier this month that he would slash NASA’s $100 billion plan to return astronauts to the moon, he didn’t mention where some of the resources would be directed.
The president only said the moon program (Constellation) is behind schedule, over budget and overall less important than other space investments. NASA’s attempts to pursue its moon goals were inadequate and took funding away from other important programs, including robotic space exploration, science and earth observations, Obama claimed.
NASA’s new secret Muslim outreach mission was conveniently omitted though the head of the agency finally revealed it this week. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden disclosed that Obama wants him to “find ways to reach out to dominantly Muslim countries” as part of the administration’s efforts to make the space agency a tool of international diplomacy.
Bolden referred to the new mission as an effort to reach out to “non-traditional partners,” especially countries that don’t have an established space program. Of special focus is Indonesia because it’s the world’s largest Muslim nation, Bolden explained. No word yet on how much money the U.S. government will invest in the Muslim outreach.
In the meantime, a congressional firestorm has brewed over Obama’s plans to nix the moon-mission program, according to news reports. Dozens of federal lawmakers have sent letters to NASA’s chief insisting that the Constellation moon program remain intact. Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, blasted Obama for cutting the moon program since it will likely cause the U.S. to fall behind countries like China and Russia in space exploration.
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