Since when did it become NASA’s “mission” to “improve relations with the Muslim world”?

Since Barack Obama was elected President, apparently:

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.

Byron York has more:

In the same interview, Bolden also said the United States, which first sent men to the moon in 1969, is no longer capable of reaching beyond low earth orbit without help from other nations.

[…]

Bolden’s trip included a June 15 speech at the American University in Cairo. In that speech, he said in the past NASA worked mostly with countries that are capable of space exploration. But that, too, has changed in light of Obama’s Cairo initiative. “He asked NASA to change…by reaching out to ‘non-traditional’ partners and strengthening our cooperation in the Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia and in particular in Muslim-majority nations,” Bolden said. “NASA has embraced this charge.”

“NASA is not only a space exploration agency,” Bolden concluded, “but also an earth improvement agency.”

“Earth improvement …” what? Ed Morrissey responds:

The problem Byron uncovers goes farther than just the Muslim outreach, though. NASA has always inspired children and even bolstered international relations, but not because that was its mission. It did those things by pursuing solid goals of exploration of space, which is why Congress funds the agency. Those esteem-boosters came as a secondary result of actual achievement, not as an end in itself. The Obama administration wants to turn this over onto its head by making NASA a bureaucracy dedicated to self-esteem which might at some point have a goal that has to do with exploration of space.

This is a recipe for failure on an expensive scale. Congress needs to either get the White House to redefine its mission for NASA or cut off its funds until the self-esteem party is canceled.

Would be very interesting to find out just how much this self-esteem “outreach” effort is costing the American people. Anywhere in the stratsosphere of as much as Project Constellation cost before it was effectively axed by this administration, costing along with it thousands of jobs?

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