Woke Stuff is Not the Right Stuff

As SpaceX Launch Cadence Speeds Up, NASA Doubles Down on Equity

After a rather spectacular month of almost weekly launches, Elon Musk’s brand-new SpaceX Dragon Freedom docked yesterday evening at the International Space Station (ISS) with NASA’s Crew-4, consisting of mission commander Kjell Lindgren, pilot Bob Hines, and mission specialists Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti. The crew composition was selected with Astro-mathematical precision: a woman of color (Watkins), a white woman (Cristoforetti), a man of color (Lindgren), and a white man (Hines).

Is the gender and pigment of the astronaut crew all that important? NASA sure thinks so. In fact, considering NASA ex parte hiring practices, Hines is lucky to have made the cut at all. “Artemis” Astronaut Class 2021 selections were delayed until they could get the mix just right: four white women, four men of color, and two white men. The only surprise was the lack of any “women of color.” So now that NASA has the woke version of the right stuff, any white men surviving on NASA payrolls may well be relegated to desk jobs.

Be that as it may, Crew-4 will spend five days with the Crew-3 team (one man of color, two white men, and one white woman) onboard the ISS, before the Crew-3 returns Earthward in SpaceX Dragon Endurance.

Regardless of composition, Crew-4 faces a busy five months on-station with itineraries that include experiments and technology demonstrations ranging from the cardiorespiratory effects of long-duration exposure, and the aging of immune systems, to advanced materials science, technology development, and in-space production applications.

And it all started less than two years ago on May 30, 2020, with SpaceX Dragon Endeavor launching Demo-2 (two white males) to the ISS, the first crewed launch from American soil since Obama canceled the Shuttle replacement and doomed NASA to ten years of reliance on Russian rockets. Crew-1 (one white woman, two men of color, and one white man) followed on November 16, 2020, in Dragon Resilience, and Crew 2 (one white woman, two white men, and one man of color) in Dragon Endeavor on April 23, 2021. Crew-3 (one man of color, two white men, and one white woman) launched in Dragon Endurance on November 11, 2021,

In the interim, SpaceX launched Inspiration 4, the world’s first civilian mission in Dragon Resilience (two white males, one white woman, one woman of color), fitted with a glass cupola replacing the ISS docking ring to allow for 360 pantographic views on 16 September 2021, and SpaceX AXIOM-1 (four white males) in Dragon Endeavor, carrying four private pay civilians to the ISS for what turned out to be 17-day mission.

Phew. A frenetic pace, even for SpaceX, with Dragon capsules playing musical chairs with ISS Harmony module docking ports. Three of SpaceX’s fleet of crew-capable Dragon spacecraft have been busy shuttling crews to and from the ISS – Resilience, which first flew 16 November 2020 with Crew 1, was refitted with a domed glass cupola instead of ISS docking adaptor to allow the September 2021 Inspiration4 mission 360-degree views of space and the Earth, similar to those provided by the Cupola Module on the ISS. Presumably, the Resilience is still in “tourist mode.”

Things may calm down just a tad, at least as far as SpaceX crewed launches go. During the lull (if you can call it a lull), SpaceX will concentrate on additional Starlink and Ride Share launches and getting its Starship ready for its first orbital flight.

SpaceX Crew-5 is scheduled to launch aboard Dragon Endurance in September of this year, and tentative crew includes two NASA astronauts, one JAXA astronaut, and possibly a Russian cosmonaut. Actual assignments are in flux due to saber rattling by ROSCOSMOS leadership following the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, and successive failures and delays of the Boeing Starliner program. Mission commander Nicole Mann (white woman) was reassigned from the troubled Boe-CFT, while pilot Josh Cassada (white man) and Mission Specialist (JAXA) Koichi Wakata (man of color) transferred from Boeing Starliner-1. ROSCOSMOS’ Anna Kikina (white woman) was reassigned from Soyuz MS-22. Three of the four crew members would be making their first space flight, the exception being Koichi Wakata who is a veteran with multiple previous flights.

So, does it matter that NASA is woefully woke, gerrymandering the gender and pigmentation of their astronauts to fit some CRT-compliant construct? Yes, it does. NASA needs to be encouraged, and failing that, commanded, to drop all this nonsense about placing “The first woman and first person of color on the Moon,” and iniquitous ex parte hiring practices, to simply concentrate on the best qualified candidates. Period.

Last month, explaining why Crew-4 christened their Dragon Capsule “Freedom,” Mission Commander (and “person of color") Lindgren tweeted that the name “celebrates a fundamental human right, and the industry and innovation that emanate from the unencumbered human spirit.” Lindgren has also likened the inspiration to the first American human space flight mission, Freedom 7. “To see [Freedom 7] and to see where we are today is really a remarkable thing,” said Lindgren. “And so, we wanted to celebrate freedom for a new generation of space players.” Damn right—celebrating a fundamental human right, human spirit, unencumbered by identity politics and racial prejudice, to celebrate freedom—a freedom from gender preference or racial quotas.

So, what is wrong with correcting “historical wrongs” by artificially placing representatives of “historically marginalized peoples” at the head of the line? At least until “past wrongs” have been “righted”? Everything.

If institutionalized discrimination got us into this, institutionalized discrimination won’t, and can’t get us out. And regardless of the fact that SpaceX technology has relegated even the most qualified of astronauts or cosmonauts to the role of cargo on ships steered by onboard computers and SpaceX ground control, Space is hard.

Astronaut Mike Mullane, engineer and Weapons Officer, retired USAF officer, and former NASA astronaut who has flown on three Shuttle missions, in discussing the inherent dangers of launching into Space atop multiple stories of rocket filled with highly explosive cryo-fuels and oxidizers wrote: “On every shuttle mission we were leaving fear-induced Butt clenching creases in the seat cushions.” While fully confident of SpaceX technology, and while acknowledging that we all live in an exciting time for human spaceflight, Mullane went on to compare the complacency felt concerning SpaceX’s “automatic missions” to an identical mindset about the space shuttle – on the eve of Space Shuttle Challenger’s fatal flight.

Yep. Space is fundamentally dangerous and no place for imposters or second-best runners up. Drop all artificial barriers into the fields of space exploration and select the very best qualified candidates. Period.

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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