Race in Space

Skin Color & Sex Selection at the New NASA

Five women and three men are at the tip of the spear, “redirecting” NASA from space exploration to “earth science.” The Biden NASA transition team consists of two “white” women, three “women of color,” two “white” men, and one “man of color.” The men include global warming “expert” Waleed Abdalati; David Noble, executive director for the Michigan Civil Liberties Union; and David Weaver, with the Air Line Pilots Association. The women include Ellen Stofan, Jedidah Isler, Bhavya Lal, and Shanon Valley, and Pam Melroy. All are technically unpaid volunteers. All are hoping to land political appointee positions within the agency.

Waleed, with dubious bona fides as a NASA scientist, is all about “packaging” sea level rise information in “ways that can maximize its use by planners, decision makers, and policy makers.”

Weaver served as public affairs and public information officer for a slew of democrat-appointed and elected officials before landing a job with NASA as associate administrator for Communications. He resigned in 2016 when President Trump was elected, landing a job with an airline union.

ACLU Michigan’s David Noble boasts LGBT organizer bragging rights, directing LGBT Vote in Obama’s 2008 campaign, working to “push” the Democratic Party to be “better” on LGBT issues, and “train and empower local activists, and elect LGBT-supportive candidates.”

How about the women?

Well, there’s team leader Pam Melroy, a veteran of three space shuttle missions and the only astronaut on the team (listed as “self-employed” on her volunteer application), and Jedidah Isler, first “African-American woman” to earn a PhD in astrophysics from Yale, dedicated to “creating more spaces for ‘scholars of color broadly, and particularly for women of color.’”

There is also Bhavya Lal, from the nonprofit Institute for Defense Analyses; Shannon Valley, who lists herself as a “post-doctoral fellow” in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences; and Ellen Stofan, “planetary geologist,” and first woman to direct the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum.

It is quite the team: five militant advocates for the identity politics/grievance industry, a union boss, an ACLU “communications director,” and a global warming radical.

In 2008 President Obama’s NASA transition team gutted NASA’s space program and doomed America to twelve years of reliance on Russian rockets to reach the International Space Station (ISS). Transition team leader, and later, Deputy NASA Administrator, Lori Garver elucidated President Obama’s plans to “enable NASA to align with the priorities of the nation and to more optimally contribute to our nation’s future.” According to Garver, “These key national priorities that I am referring to are: Economic development—poverty, hunger, jobs. International leadership/geo-politics—world peace. Education—societal advancement. Environment—future of planet and humanity.”

So, under Obama, NASA’s core mission to preserve and protect America’s leadership in manned space, and pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery, and aeronautic research, had been perverted to “fight poverty, promote world peace, and protect the environment.”

With less than five days remaining before a Biden-Harris Administration is sworn in, NASA has every right to be terrified. All the gains achieved under President Trump and Vice President Pence are at risk: return to manned flight with the Commercial Crew Program and SpaceX, robotic exploration of Mars, return to the moon, a permanent moon base, and manned exploration of Mars by 2024. The four “Day 1” priorities of the Biden-Harris ticket have been announced: combating COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity and climate change—no mention of NASA or space exploration.

But NASA isn’t stupid. After all, they still have a few rocket scientists left. They had every reason to believe national public opinion polls that unanimously predicted a landslide win for Biden-Harris, and blue-wave dominance in the Senate and House. NASA had already selected astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley for the first SpaceX launch to the ISS. Both had impeccable qualifications. Both were military pilots, both are engineers, both have logged three flights on space shuttles, and both have spent years working with SpaceX, perfecting the very ship they flew to orbit. Unfortunately, both are white males.

By way of making amends, and currying favor with a possible Biden-Harris administration, NASA made a point of selecting Michael Hopkins (white male), Victor Glover (black male) Shannon Walker (white female) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Akihiko Hoside (Asian male) for the follow-on mission.

In for a diversity penny, in for a diversity pound. NASA announced their plans to land the FIRST WOMAN (and next man) on the moon, quadrupling down by publishing their picks for  Artemis Moon to Mars astronauts—eighteen astronauts: nine men and nine women. Of the nine men, four are “persons of color.” Of the nine women, four are “persons of color.”

Is there anything intrinsically wrong racial and gender quotas? Not necessarily – not if all selectees were demonstrably better qualified than their competition. It is certainly wrong to use racial or gender yardsticks to promote less qualified candidates over better qualified candidates.

But let’s face it, nowadays astronauts are basically cargo. We don’t need the fly by wire/seat of your pants piloting heroics of a John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin or Mike Collins. Not to get us back to the ISS, or back to the Moon, and probably not to land on Mars. To be sure, some training in space suits and extra-vehicular activities, zero gravity toilets and close-quarters modesty issues is certainly in order. But all else being equal? Any reasonably healthy engineer or PhD can be trained up.

When SpaceX launched Cargo Dragon 2 to dock with the ISS, Crew Dragon astronauts had to power down their already docked Resilience spacecraft to prevent it from responding to signals from SpaceX command that were meant for the cargo vehicle. When we return to the moon, and strike out for Mars, it will likely be aboard self-piloting craft owing more to Uber than Buck Rogers. That is if the Biden crowd doesn’t take a page out the Obama playbook and scotch the entire space program in favor of “Earth Sciences.”

Biden insiders believe that NASA transition team leader Pamela Melroy is a shoo-in for NASA Administrator. A retired NASA astronaut, Melroy piloted Space Shuttle missions STS-92 and STS-112, and commanded mission STS-120 before leaving the agency in 2009. If anyone can help NASA stay focused on space exploration, she can. That is, if she is inclined to.

has traveled extensively in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and the South Seas – winning hearts and minds in and out of uniform – federal, military, and freelance.  Now working exclusively freelance, he is fluent in German and English, with survival skills in French, Haitian Creole, Russian, Standard Arabic, Swahili and Samoan.

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