Flashback: Remember When Obama Wanted NASA To Make Muslims 'Feel Good'?


President Donald Trump generated plenty of excitement (and, as with everything he does, criticism) with his announcement that he was directing the Department of Defense to create a sixth branch of the military: the Space Force.

“We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the Space Force — separate but equal,” the president said Monday at a meeting of the National Space Council. “It is going to be something. So important.”

Whatever you think of Trump’s Space Force plan, it makes a heck of a lot more sense than the bizarre space policy put out by his predecessor just over eight years ago.

Former President Barack Obama told his NASA chief that the agency’s “foremost” goal was to improve relations with the Muslim world and make Muslims “feel good.”

In an interview with Al-Jazeera on June 30, 2010, Charlie Bolden said that when he took over as NASA administrator, Obama “charged me with three things.”

Lindsey Graham Ties Border Funding to Ukraine Aid, Has Tough Message for Anyone Who Doesn't Like It

“One,” Bolden said, “he wanted me to help reinspire 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, math and engineering.”

Needless to say, the idea that Obama wanted NASA — the illustrious space agency of the greatest nation on earth — to focus its energies on making Muslims “feel good” didn’t go over very well.

Do you think Obama did permanent damage to America's leadership in space?

Michael Griffin, who served as NASA administrator under President George W. Bush, called it a “perversion of NASA’s purpose.”

“NASA has been for 50 years above politics, and for 50 years, NASA has been focused by one president or another on space exploration,” Griffin told the Washington Examiner. “Some presidents have championed it more strongly than others, and it is regrettable that none have championed it as strongly as President Kennedy. But no president has thought to take NASA’s focus off of anything but space exploration until now, and it is deeply regrettable.”

The White House tried to distance itself from Bolden’s comments.

When asked at a news briefing why the administrator had said what he said, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs responded, “It’s an excellent question, and I don’t think — that was not his task, and that’s not the task of NASA.”

Even if the wording wasn’t exactly as intended, it’s clear that Obama put a high priority on using NASA for Muslim outreach. During the same trip to Cairo in which he talked to Al-Jazeera, Bolden gave a speech in which he said Obama had “asked NASA to change … by reaching out to ‘nontraditional’ partners and strengthening our cooperation in the Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia and in particular in Muslim-majority nations.”

Doocy Refuses to Let KJP Get Away with Blaming Republicans for Congressman's Carjacking

“NASA is not only a space exploration agency, but also an Earth improvement agency,” he said.

Aside from the Muslim controversy, Obama’s handling of NASA was a massive failure in the eyes of many of those who helped to make the United States the world’s leader in space.

Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan railed against the president’s “devastating” cancellation of the moon-bound Constellation program, saying it would put America “on a long downhill slide to mediocrity.”

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , ,
Todd Windsor is a senior story editor at The Western Journal. He has worked as an editor or reporter in news and sports for more than 30 years.
Todd Windsor is a senior story editor at The Western Journal. He was born in Baltimore and grew up in Maryland. He graduated from the University of Miami (he dreams of wearing the turnover chain) and has worked as an editor and reporter in news and sports for more than 30 years. Todd started at The Miami News (defunct) and went on to work at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., the St. Petersburg (now Tampa Bay) Times, The Baltimore Sun and Space News before joining Liftable Media in 2016. He and his beautiful wife have two amazing daughters and a very old Beagle.
Bachelor of Science from the University of Miami
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Media, Sports