Tag Archives: policy

The law and Obama at Yucca Mountain

Apropos to the space war between Obama and Congress over the Obama administration’s willingness to ignore Congressional legislation mandating the continuing funding of the Constellation program is this story about the administration’s efforts to circumvent federal law in order to cancel the use of Yucca Mountain in Nevada as a nuclear waste site. The courts have now expressly ruled [pdf] that the Obama administration it cannot do this: the law is the law, and they have to follow it. The key quote from the legal decision:

Unless Congress directs otherwise, [the Department of Energy] may not single-handedly derail the legislated decisionmaking process.

What a concept: the President and his appointees must obey the law!

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Bolden’s al-Jazeera interview, part 2

The reports of NASA administrator Charles Bolden’s al-Jazeera interview have so far focused mostly on Bolden’s claim that his “foremost” priority at NASA is to reach out to the Muslim world in order “to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.”

Though this statement is both idiotic and condescending, I don’t think it was the most idiotic thing Bolden said. Instead, I think the prize-winner is this quote near the end of the interview (at around 21:30), where Bolden describes why we need to find out the make-up of all asteroids:

Is it sand or is it metal? If it is sand we’re not really worried that much about it because it’s probably going to impact the Earth and, you know, go away. Metal would be a bad day. We could have another ice age and instead of the extinction of the dinosaurs it would be the extinction of you and me.

Asteroids made of “sand” are merely going to “go away” if they hit the Earth? I would really like to see the scientific research Bolden is relying on for this statement.

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Government and the impending shortage of helium

The law of unintended consequences strikes again! We are going to run out of our supply of helium, and it is all because the government first tried to manage and control the resource in the early 20th century, and then decided in the 1990s to extricate itself from that management. For those of us following the continuing space war over NASA’s future, this story is most instructive in illustrating how difficult it is to get the government out of our lives, once we have let it in.

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Bolden interview with al-Jazeera

This interview of Charles Bolden, NASA administrator, is another example (in a long list of examples) of the clearly misplaced priorities of the Obama administration when it comes to NASA and space exploration.

The key quote is in the first two minutes of the interview [emphasis mine]:

Bolden: When I became the NASA Administrator – before I became the NASA Administrator – [President Obama] 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.

Though all three of these priorities (inspire kids, international cooperation, and help the Muslim world develop) sound nice, none have anything to do with space exploration. More specifically, they have absolutely nothing to do with NASA’s original charter, which was to explore the solar system and encourage the development of the American aerospace industry.

At about 9:50, Bolden then states that “We’re not going to go anywhere beyond low Earth orbit as a single entity. The United States can’t do it. China can’t do it. No single nation is going to go to a place like Mars alone.”

Gee, I wonder what international consortium put those men on the Moon? I always thought the U.S. did it alone. According to Bolden, however, that was impossible: No single nation can do anything alone beyond Earth orbit.

There are more inanities in this interview. Listen for example to his clueless discussion of solar flares at around 19:00 and his statement at 20:30 where he claims an asteroid made of “sand” poses no threat to the Earth.

With leadership like this, the future does not look good for the American aerospace industry.

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