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NASA Chief: Next Frontier Better Relations With Muslim World

Published July 05, 2010

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a recent interview that his "foremost" mission as the head of America's space exploration agency is to improve relations with the Muslim world.

Though international diplomacy would seem well outside NASA's orbit, Bolden said in an interview with Al Jazeera that strengthening those ties was among the top tasks President Obama assigned him. He said better interaction with the Muslim world would ultimately advance space travel.

"When I became the NASA administrator -- or before I became the NASA administrator -- he charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, 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 dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science ... and math and engineering," Bolden said in the interview.

The NASA administrator was in the Middle East last month marking the one-year anniversary since Obama delivered an address to Muslim nations in Cairo. Bolden spoke in June at the American University in Cairo -- in his interview with Al Jazeera, he described space travel as an international collaboration of which Muslim nations must be a part.

"It is a matter of trying to reach out and get the best of all worlds, if you will, and there is much to be gained by drawing in the contributions that are possible from the Muslim (nations)," he said. He held up the International Space Station as a model, praising the contributions there from the Russians and the Chinese.

However, Bolden denied the suggestion that he was on a diplomatic mission -- in a distinctly non-diplomatic role.

"Not at all. It's not a diplomatic anything," he said.

He said the United States is not going to travel beyond low-Earth orbit on its own and that no country is going to make it to Mars without international help.

Bolden has faced criticism this year for overseeing the cancellation of the agency's Constellation program, which was building new rockets and spaceships capable of returning astronauts to the moon. Stressing the importance of international cooperation in future missions, Bolden told Al Jazeera that the moon, Mars and asteroids are still planned destinations for NASA.

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Guest Gritz

Political correctness carried to an insane new level........ <_<

To me it's like Major League Baseball coming out saying that their major goal in the future is to make sure that Christians in the Gaza strip are respected.

WTF?

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Political correctness carried to an insane new level........ <_<

To me it's like Major League Baseball coming out saying that their major goal in the future is to make sure that Christians in the Gaza strip are respected.

WTF?

And to stop having playoffs and the world series to help make sure it happens.

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Honestly not trying to be a smart azz here - I'm truly ignorant on the topic - but can anyone expound a little on the contributions from the Muslim world, for which we should be so grateful, especially to the point of making it the NASA chief's "first and foremost" mission to express our gratitude? :mellow:

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Honestly not trying to be a smart azz here - I'm truly ignorant on the topic - but can anyone expound a little on the contributions from the Muslim world, for which we should be so grateful, especially to the point of making it the NASA chief's "first and foremost" mission to express our gratitude? :mellow:

I'm sure there's more, but I believe it was a Muslim man who discovered algebra. I guess "discover" is the correct word; maybe it should be "invent". Ben Franklin discovered electricity, he didn't invent it, but Algebra seems trickier. Was algebra invented, or discovered.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure it was a Muslim man who did it.

I think Muslims are credited with creating the first public hospitals as well as the first public libraries. They are also credited with creating the worlds oldest "degree granting" university as well.

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Honestly not trying to be a smart azz here - I'm truly ignorant on the topic - but can anyone expound a little on the contributions from the Muslim world, for which we should be so grateful, especially to the point of making it the NASA chief's "first and foremost" mission to express our gratitude? :mellow:

Put it this way - thank the mongolians that you aren't islamic right now.

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Honestly not trying to be a smart azz here - I'm truly ignorant on the topic - but can anyone expound a little on the contributions from the Muslim world, for which we should be so grateful, especially to the point of making it the NASA chief's "first and foremost" mission to express our gratitude? :mellow:

number system.

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I am NOT defending Pres Obama, and I don't have all the facts regarding this issue, but I would bet that it's not just "Muslims" that are being reached out to.

For me, the question is do we have all the resources necessary to develop spacecraft to travel to the far reaches of space? That's a HE LL of a commitment for any single nation to undertake.

At this point in time I don't think any nation can do it alone. I could of course be wrong, it's JMO.

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I am NOT defending Pres Obama, and I don't have all the facts regarding this issue, but I would bet that it's not just "Muslims" that are being reached out to.

For me, the question is do we have all the resources necessary to develop spacecraft to travel to the far reaches of space? That's a HE LL of a commitment for any single nation to undertake.

At this point in time I don't think any nation can do it alone. I could of course be wrong, it's JMO.

Agree that space travel, especially for anything past the moon, would need to be a multinational undertaking. But wouldn't you first want to reach out to nations that have already have a space program rather than countries that haven't even started one?

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Does it really need to be a multinational venture to go past the moon? Maybe if you wanted to get to Mars, which is 55,000,000 kms away, compared to 384,000 kms for the Moon(nearly 1,500 times the distance). Of course, maybe with advances in technology between when we went to the moon the first time and now, it may be possible to get there in a managable way. I am sure we've found ways to scoot through space a bit faster than we could 40 years ago.

Interesting subject, that's for sure.

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and yet we can somehow spend $1 billion per month on a pointless war bringing democracy and building a new nation in Afghanistan

Funny story. Friend of mine was in the mountains of Afghanistan back in 2006 on a combat patrol. They came across a small village in the mountains, and the people there thought him and his boys were Soviet troops. They thought the Soviets were still in Afghanistan. :lol:

Seriously though. Afghanistan is NOTHING like Iraq. Afghanistan is a barren wasteland of nothingness. We could nuke that place and the only difference is that there would be glass instead of sand on the ground.

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Does it really need to be a multinational venture to go past the moon? Maybe if you wanted to get to Mars, which is 55,000,000 kms away, compared to 384,000 kms for the Moon(nearly 1,500 times the distance). Of course, maybe with advances in technology between when we went to the moon the first time and now, it may be possible to get there in a managable way. I am sure we've found ways to scoot through space a bit faster than we could 40 years ago.

Interesting subject, that's for sure.

Technology wise, most likely it doesn't need to be a multinational venture for either. Financially though, it would be nice to have more nations help fund it I'm sure.

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European dominance and the discovery age has a lot to do with the fact they didn't get bulldozed by the mongol empire like the rest of eurasia.

The Mongols peaked early, and were one more of history's victims to two truths that repeat regardless of epoch, land wars in Asia and more than one battlefront (East & West). They were doomed to fail in their expansion.

As to this thread, I thought we had a large department called State that deals with this. Aside from the absurdity of making NASA a global PR machine, why isn't the primary objective to carve greater domestic public/private partnerships to allay the costs of exploration, expand US technology capabilities, not to mention create and transfer skilled jobs in aerospace from the public to private sector?

Perhaps this is just a desperate attempt at relevance.

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Agree that space travel, especially for anything past the moon, would need to be a multinational undertaking. But wouldn't you first want to reach out to nations that have already have a space program rather than countries that haven't even started one?

Point taken. But had we offered to help Iran set up nuclear systems to provide power to their households several decades ago we might not be dealing with an Iran trying to develop its' own nuclear program today.

Nah, I don't evn believe that's true. But I do think it's a very good idea to get some of these countries involved in space projects even if they currently have no progams to speak of. Involving more people allows it to feel like a group effort and one that everybody can get behind.

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Perhaps somebody can explain why it's a bad thing to reach out to Muslim nations for their contributions to math and science and technology. Or is it just that people hate Muslims so much that any kind of cooperation with the Muslim world is automatically considered horrible?

The point is, who cares? Its like 'reaching out' the Italians because their forefathers developed aqauducts, or concrete.

Its like 'reaching out' to Egypt for their development of paper.

Etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.

And back to the point of 'who cares', why is this now NASA's mission??

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