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George W. Goa’uld?

Wow. Elaine has really gone off the deep end since the last time I checked in on her:

Some of the right wing clowns brought in to turn NASA into soupcon of space cadets out to conquer the universe make fun of me on their own websites. But what do they say about this? Eh? I predicted that Bush, being a malign fake human with some sort of alien parasitical life form squirming in his large intestines, would actively plot to destroy Planet Earth.

She later suggests exile to Mars for the Bush Administration, but allows that arrest would be cheaper. (Might I suggest Tretonin?)

But seriously, the item which has Elaine so exercised is merely a change in the NASA mission statement:

From 2002 until this year, NASA?s mission statement, prominently featured in its budget and planning documents, read: ?To understand and protect our home planet; to explore the universe and search for life; to inspire the next generation of explorers … as only NASA can.?

In early February, the statement was quietly altered, with the phrase ?to understand and protect our home planet? deleted. In this year?s budget and planning documents, the agency?s mission is ?to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.?
David E. Steitz, a spokesman for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said the aim was to square the statement with President Bush?s goal of pursuing human spaceflight to the Moon and Mars.[emphasis added]

It sounds to me like NASA getting back to basics — no more pandering to environmentalists, as they have been doing since the ‘protect the planet’ phrasing was added in 2002, just a focus on what NASA has traditionally been expected to do. Indeed, this mission statement is more in line with the Declaration of Policy and Purpose in the National Aeronautics and Space Act, the legislation creating NASA:

(d) The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives:
(1) The expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;
(2) The improvement of the usefulness, performance, speed, safety, and efficiency of aeronautical and space vehicles;
(3) The development and operation of vehicles capable of carrying instruments, equipment, supplies, and living organisms through space;
(4) The establishment of long-range studies of the potential benefits to be gained from, the opportunities for, and the problems involved in the utilization of aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes;
(5) The preservation of the role of the United States as a leader in aeronautical and space science and technology and in the application thereof to the conduct of peaceful activities within and outside the atmosphere;
(6) The making available to agencies directly concerned with national defense of discoveries that have military value or significance, and the furnishing by such agencies, to the civilian agency established to direct and control nonmilitary aeronautical and space activities, of information as to discoveries which have value or significance to that agency;
(7) Cooperation by the United States with other nations and groups of nations in work done pursuant to this Act and in the peaceful application of the results thereof;
(8) The most effective utilization of the scientific and engineering resources of the United States, with close cooperation among all interested agencies of the United States in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort, facilities, and equipment; and
(9) The preservation of the United States preeminent position in aeronautics and space through research and technology development related to associated manufacturing processes.

It’s important to note that the new mission statement doesn’t preclude environmental observation and related activities, it merely subsumes such things under “scientific discovery” (item 1 above, and more directly Title IV) instead of according them equal status to the more obvious purposes of the agency (aeronautics and astronautics).

Predictably, some NASA scientists are as unhappy as Elaine with this change, since it’s their turf which has lost the equal billing, and they no longer have a mandate “hook” to hang their pet projects on when seeking funding…in other words, the change has pushed the science über alles crowd off their pedestal, and they don’t much like it.

2 comments to George W. Goa’uld?

  • ming the more-or-less

    Oh the horror — the horror — the horror!

    Now there are no more government agencies or
    organizations ANYWHERE charged with studying
    or protecting the Earth! Whatever will we do?

  • Shift the job to NOAA, perhaps, where it might be more subject-matter appropriate?

    I appreciate the humor, but like I said, the change in mission statement does not change NASA’s foundational purposes, among which is scientific research into “phenomena in the atmosphere and space”. There is nothing stopping the agency from doing exactly the same missions as they would have had the mission statement remained unchanged, the change just takes away a “hook” which NASA environmental scientists (by their own admission) have been using to hang their funding requests on.