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The Sciences

Akin breakin' heart

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitApril 16, 2010 10:00 PM


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Response to both Obama's space policy and my blog post about it were pretty much as I expected. Haters, lovers, people who didn't actually read what I wrote or listened to what Obama actually said, some thoughtful, some knee jerk. The usual.


But my favorite is from Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO), who, in a press release, posted this:

The decision by the Obama administration to gut NASA’s manned flight program does more than jeopardize the long term goals of solar system exploration, the cancellation of the space shuttles replacement will effectively leave the United States reliant upon the Soviet Union to grant us access to low earth orbit. As a member of the Armed Services Committee I am very concerned with that possibility, and as an American I am disappointed by the prospect.

It doesn't surprise me that someone would erroneously say that Obama is gutting the manned space flight program, when we know he isn't and when he may in fact be saving it. It doesn't surprise me that people are forgetting that private industry is poised to take us into low Earth orbit before Constellation could have, though it's odd for a "fiscally conservative" Republican Congressman -- and therefore, one assume, pro-business -- to forget such a thing. It also doesn't surprise me that someone would blame Obama about us having to rely on foreign partners for access to space after the Shuttle retires, and it certainly doesn't surprise me that a Republican Congressman would say such a thing, even though this necessity came about because of President Bush's decision to retire the Shuttle and not have a replacement ready for at least five years after. But what I do find really interesting is that a Congressman on the Armed Services Committee would refer to Russia as "the Soviet Union". Pssst! Congressman Akin: it's the 21st century. It stopped being the USSR in 1991. I guess it's hard to keep up with such things if you can't see Russia from your state, though. [Update (14:30 MT): Apparently, Congressman Akin's release has been updated, replacing "Soviet Union" with "Russian Federation". My congratulations and thanks to his team. Now, if they could fix the other egregiously wrong things he said in that release, we'll be copacetic.]

Tip o' the Cossack hat to ScottW.

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