The US government is again using its space program as a virtue-signaling tool, choosing VP Kamala Harris to head the National Space Council, where, among other “priorities,” she will focus on diversity and climate change.
Newly confirmed NASA chief Bill Nelson praised the decision on Saturday, saying Harris is “the perfect person to lead the federal government’s space policy.” He didn’t cite any specific credentials that make Harris the ideal leader for the council, such as relevant experience, education or a passion for space exploration.
“The Vice President is the perfect person to lead the federal government’s space policy,” says Sen. Bill Nelson, who the U.S. Senate confirmed as our 14th administrator. Read Nelson's full statement about @VP serving as chair of the National Space Council: https://t.co/FTxqBs6emu https://t.co/vKGn2G64sv
— NASA (@NASA) May 1, 2021
Harris is a lawyer by training, whose top issues as a senator and failed presidential candidate included criminal justice, race, climate change, middle-class tax cuts, government-run health care, promoting a $15 minimum wage and protecting abortion rights. She was also hailed as the first female vice president, the first black vice president and the first vice president of South Asian descent.
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Perhaps her most noteworthy brushes with NASA came in February, when she called astronaut Victor Glover at the International Space Station to congratulate him on being the first black person to fly on a commercial spacecraft, and March, when she called female astronauts Shannon Walker and Kate Rubins at ISS to congratulate them on being “women in space.”
Harris welcomed her latest appointment, declaring:
As I’ve said before, in America, when we shoot for the moon, we plant our flag on it. I am honored to lead our National Space Council.
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Rachel Palermo, assistant press secretary to Harris, posted a list of issues on which Harris will focus at the council. Some of the priorities are predictable, such as “peaceful exploration objectives with allies,” but others are head-scratchers, such as “diversity and economic development” and “climate change.”
The @VP will Chair the National Space Council, focusing on:🚀Sustainable development of commercial space activity🚀Peaceful norms & responsible behaviors 🚀Peaceful exploration objectives w/allies 🚀Climate change 🚀STEM 🚀Diversity & economic development 🚀Cyber security
— Rachel Palermo (@RachelPalermo46) May 1, 2021
Then again, it wouldn’t be unusual for a Democrat administration to use space as a frontier for political posturing. Then-NASA chief Charles Bolden said in 2010 that the “perhaps foremost” goal that then-President Barack Obama had charged him with was to engage with Muslim nations to “help them feel good about their historic contribution to science and math and engineering.”
Harris will need to juggle her new role with other high-profile tasks, such as leading diplomatic efforts to stem the flow of illegal aliens from Central America. She has been criticized for her efforts as “border czar,” including failure to visit the nation’s southern border amid an immigration crisis. Speaking of planting a flag on the moon only exacerbated those concerns.
“Try planting a flag at the US border,” one Twitter commenter said. Another observer said, “First things first. There are pressing problems of a terrestrial nature that the VP needs to take seriously before she moves on to extra-terrestrial matters.”
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