Posted on July 11, 2011

NASA Chief: Final Shuttle Launch Begins New Era

Cynthia Gordy, The Root, July 7, 2011

When the space shuttle Atlantis blasts off on Friday, it will mark the final NASA shuttle mission ever. But the shuttering of the 30-year-old program isn’t the end of American space exploration–in fact, according to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, it makes way for the creation of new designs that will take us deeper into orbit. In the meantime, the agency will partner with the Russian space program to continue sending American astronauts into space. (At the same time, NASA will aid in the development of a privately run space shuttle industry.)

The Root spoke with Bolden, the first African American to lead NASA, about why he thinks traveling to Mars is critical to the nation, his efforts to recruit more astronauts of color and how the final shuttle mission on Friday may leave him a bit teary-eyed.


TR: This week The Root featured 14 black astronauts who have traveled into space. Are many African Americans coming into the program now, and are there NASA efforts to recruit more astronauts of color?

CB: There is an ongoing effort to recruit more astronauts of color, women and other minorities. That has been ongoing since 1977, when NASA recruited its first group of space shuttle astronauts. Personally, I’m never satisfied with the number that we have; nor do I think we’ll ever have enough. I really want to be able to inspire young people of all races and colors to want to follow in my footsteps and become an astronaut.

One of the things we do is spend significant amounts of our education funding in collaboration with historically black colleges and universities. We have a number of scholarship programs, internship programs and grant programs that go into minority neighborhoods, all the way from middle and high school on up.

We try to use as many of our astronauts as possible who look like kids in some of the minority neighborhoods to talk to them about how they became interested in space, and how they studied and made very diligent efforts to get there. It’s hard to become an astronaut; we don’t want them to be afraid of it, so we try to tell them how much fun we’ve had in getting here.


33 responses to “NASA Chief: Final Shuttle Launch Begins New Era”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Coming soon AAAs, Affirmative Action Afronauts!

    Hey I wanted to be a astronaut too but there was this tricky thing called math and science. That’s why my feet are firmly planted on mother Earth…where they should be!

  2. Bandmo says:

    I agree, let “them” be the first to venture to the Sun, tell them to go at at night, “not so hot then”. “one small stop for POOF”

  3. CDE says:

    This is why NASA is in decline. We went from the brilliant scientists who built the program in the 1960’s to the multi-racial disaster that it is today. We went to the moon for crying out loud. Now we’re reduced to giving joyrides on the space shuttle.

  4. anonymous says:

    black astronauts?

    what’s next? korean sprinters?

    x = 2+2

    find x

  5. Anonymous says:

    Space travel is a White endeavor. It’s achieved only through mastery of difficult science, which is why there aren’t a lot of people “of color” involved in it. There’s actually never been a conspiracy on the part of Whites to keep other races out of space.

    There were no “outreach” programs targeting White kids for NASA. There was no need for one; we are the ones who created space travel. The deeper meaning of this is lost on 90% of the population.

    Bolden will not do anything good for NASA, as his record already shows. He is plainly a token appointee, and neither he or Obama (who has also harmed NASA) are in a position to understand or administrate space travel.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’m actually in agreement – I think we can never have enough minorities on flights into outer space. Kumbaya!

  7. Question Diversity says:

    Translation: If it hasn’t happened already, there will be affirmative action for astronauts. Usually, NASA wants astronauts to have some relevant level of education and applied knowledge, but just as many schools are filtering out black and Hispanic incompetence in “group learning” (i.e. whites and Asians do all the work, blacks and Hispanics get the group grade), NASA will let more and more blacks and Hispanics ride along just to be dark faces on the trip. Should there be any real trouble, that’s why the whites are there.

    We try to use as many of our astronauts as possible who look like kids in some of the minority neighborhoods to talk to them about how they became interested in space

    When the “kids in some of the minority neighborhoods” start becoming net taxpayers, then we’ll talk about the “necessity” of “astronauts looking like them.” By the way, my first and second Calculus teachers/profs didn’t look like me, yet that didn’t dilute my desire or ability to learn Calculus.

    Newt Gingrich is hardly Presidential material, but he did make a good point a few weeks ago at a debate that if the money spent on the space program post-Apollo were instead privatized, we would be much further along.

  8. Tim in Indiana says:

    Obviously, Bolden, the first African American to “lead” NASA, is more concerned about race than he is with space exploration. He has no faith in the American free market system to bring forth the most qualified candidates (maybe because he knows that no blacks would be included); it must be micromanaged by government.

    “We try to use as many of our astronauts as possible who look like kids in some of the minority neighborhoods to talk to them about how they became interested in space”

    Why not talk to them about not pursuing a life of crime? We can already see how well that’s worked.

  9. Old White Jim says:

    It is better that we cut funding for this agency and let the private sector take us back into space. Profit motivated companies competing to be the first to create a vacation land on the moon for lawyers in love (thanks Jackson Browne) will get more done in a decade than our space bureaucracy has managed to do in nearly six decades.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Since Obama killed the shuttle program in favor of spening more on welfare and middle eastern self-esteem, I really don’t think we’re going to have a space program again.

    Even though we need to establish cities on the moon and on permament, self-sustaining space stations for our species to survive in the long run, not having a government program might not be a bad thing.

    Private industry will be under less obligation to have color quotas on their private projects.

  11. Bryan boru says:

    A new name for N.A.S.A. National African space agency.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Good, after he is finished recruiting more minorities to shoot into space, he can recruit more whites for the NBA.

    Wait a minute. Shoot more minorities into space? Hey I think we should support him on this! Just kidding!

  13. BannerRWB says:

    For what it’s worth, I attended the Atlantis lift-off. Of the approximately 2000 people in attendance in the immediate area where I was located, I counted ten African-Americans. I did so with the thought of making this specific comment if a Shuttle related article was posted to AMREN.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Minorities have done near enough nothing for science and every other aspect of modern life and they want these people to be involved in nasa,minorites have had no imaginative thought for science and space travel and contribute nothing but whinning about inclusion.

    The way the world is going we are never going to get off this planet and blacks and minorities involved in nasa and science seal this fate,we will never get another chance,we need to get our sanity back as a white peoples if we and the world are too survive

  15. Tom in Illinois says:

    Who bets all the money we won’t be spending on launching shuttles into space anymore will be going to all the minorites to help catch up on their “bills”.

  16. GenX ANZAC says:

    So there’s a real conscious effort to artificially put blacks into the hero roles of firemen, policemen and astronauts as progressive window dressing and as minority role models.

    Ah how wonderful, no need to apply if you’re the wrong colour though, we White people have had ‘our turn on top’, it’s now our turn to be discriminated against and to occupy the bottom rung (has anyone stipulated for how long exactly we’ll get to occupy this position, are we talking years, decades or centuries?). Apparently now, two wrongs do make a right.

    Colonising Mars has been one of my favourite escapism fantasies of late (inter planetary White flight), it now looks like I, or my descendants will now be mugged, raped and/or killed by the second generation of Martian planet builders. “There goes the solar system”.

    Why is it that White innovation which to me really is White culture (from the Latin cultura stemming from colere, meaning “to cultivate”), has been handed over to the world as ‘humanities achievements’ when we Whites (Caucasians) get to keep nothing for ourselves except our own little backward ethnic intricacies (dances and silly hats etc.), while we get to be force fed a diet of guilt as our history is being constantly rewritten by progressive revisionists.

    As a White person it gets harder and harder to participate in the modern world every day. Of course our participation is mandatory under the threat of imprisonment in areas such as taxation, but psychologically what choices do we really have but to show strained acceptance, appeasement, feigned tolerance, to voluntarily choose ‘blissful’ ignorance, apathy, anger, revulsion, relocation, to plot revolution (change of some sort), adaptation, abandonment or to just surrender and concede defeat.

    About the only positives from that list to me are adaptation, relocation and preparation for revolution (on some level at least). I just don’t trust the group mentality and direction of those who call themselves our leaders.

    Us humans as self realised and (relatively) intelligent beings are a very, very young species who a million years ago apparently looked like ‘Lucy’ the monkey girl and who’ve only really been ‘human’ as we know ourselves for somewhere around 60,000-30,000 years (give or take) around the time that all non African humans exchanged genes with the larger brained Neanderthals (which we all just collectively learned only last year).

    I don’t mind admitting that I have no idea what the future holds and that we’re really just making it all up as we go along, but I just wish that the other side of the political spectrum would admit the same and “put the brakes on” with this grand social experiment that we all get to live in.

    Who gave them the right to act and make decisions that will deeply affect us all for generations to come, and where has the true right wing gone? As the centre of the political spectrum moves more and more to the left side every year.

    Will the next racial/ ethnic majority group bring back conservatism? By then we would’ve played musical chairs with the power in our own countries and find that there is no chair for us when the music stops.

    I don’t care about being ‘right’ in our arguements and retoric and still getting to lose, I just want the leftists to admit that they do not assuredly know what they are doing either (unless outright destruction is their goal, then they truely are our mortal enemies).

    The progressives have taken a system that wasn’t broken and they’re decided to fix it, but everyone one of their ‘solutions’ seems to create a new problem and then another left wing social solution is needed to fix the new problem that they themselves created and so on and so, they’re acting like a parent with Munchausen syndrome, with our society being the patient child.

    I appreciate that change is inevitable, but the amount of deliberately driven demographic change we’ve forced on ourselves in the last fifty years is extraordinary and probably irreversible (non violently at least).

    What if we conservative thinking alarmists are right and all we’ve achieved is to voluntarily hobbl ourselves globally, while giving other homogenous nationalistic groups a strategic advantage for no other reason than we in the West decided to follow a bad idea.

    Power needs to be retained so we can dictate our own living conditions, but part of the responsibility that goes with power is to use it wisely and to keep out of other countries affairs, least we are labelled tyrants.

    The more I learn about the way the geo political/ economic world works, the more lies, corruption, hypocrisy and back handed/ back room deals I see where evils are offset against each other. In this game, us citizens are really are just the a-racial pawns which makes one wonder who really cares for us?

    The NATO bombing of Libya is a good example of that, I as a White nationalist don’t want to see African refuges travelling to Europe in their thousands, but then I have to question the so called humanitarian reasoning for bombing Libya when these same NATO leaders shun the refuges that they’ve helped create.

    To be honest after a few years of reading right wing articles, I’m still not sure of the motives of those who want to ‘fix us’. Are they hell bent on our destruction as enemies born or are they genuine in their intentions, but are guilty of being simultaneously arrogant and naive, column A & B combined perhaps all being manipulated by “the globalists”.

    Either way we conservative types need change too, we can’t rewind but we can use the past as a template of sorts, I guess it all starts with yourself, then your close family, then outwards from there.

    There has to be something on the cards to slow down the unsustainable exponential population growth that the rest of the word is experiencing.

    Pardon this wandering, generalised rant of bottled up thoughts.

  17. Anonymous says:

    “I’m never satisfied” “nor do I think we’ll ever have enough” That sums up black attitude on race relations very concisely. Thank you Charles Bolden for being so completely honest.

  18. berin says:

    If Bolden were charged with colonizing another planet with a crew of say, 10, on a one way mission, I’ll bet there wouldn’t be much diversity in his crew. If his life depended on it, he wouldn’t be concerned with “not enough minoriies”. What this dimwit should do is start-up a private space travel company and staff it with blacks. Show us how good you are ’nuff talkin’.

  19. Anonymous says:

    the real scoop:

    the space shuttle was fitted with ceramic tiles rather than a heat shield which would require zero maintenance costs.

    costs per launch got crazy as contractors milked the government dry

    We need a shuttle vehicle that takes off like a plane and lands like a plane and doesnt require more than a drive up to a gas station to take off again.

  20. sbuffalonative says:

    Personally, I’m never satisfied with the number that we have; nor do I think we’ll ever have enough. I really want to be able to inspire young people of all races and colors to want to follow in my footsteps and become an astronaut.

    Never satisfied and never enough. Hmmmm.

    If he wants to inspire blacks, I would suggest he visit African nations and encourage them to start space programs. That would close the astronaut-race gap. And to prove what great humanitarians they are, they can then hire white astronauts and turn their space program over to whites.

  21. flyingtiger says:

    If you ever had to work with blacks and hispanics, you would know how much they hate the space program. They firmly believe that money for this program was taken away from them.

    The space program is seen as a victory for the white race, which it is. Bowden and Obama hate NASA because of this. Their plan is to fill it with minorities to make sure nothing is done, and to add this stupid outreach program to the moslems.

    Obama must go.

  22. Bobby says:

    I once worked at a job, where a Mexican guy said to another Mexican employee concerning one of the shuttle launches, “bunch of stupid white boys”. No,NO,I’m not making this up. The level of resentment and jealousy it obviously showed was a revelation to me.

  23. Citizen886 says:

    If they are looking to incorporate more African Americans into the space program, they should aim their focus towards Atlanta. I hear the math and science scores down there are off the charts!

  24. SKIP says:

    ” I counted ten African-Americans. I did so with the thought of making this specific comment if a Shuttle related article was posted to AMREN”

    Those 10 AFRICANS were probably tour bus drivers!

  25. Middle American says:

    Maybe they could start some new “Section 9” free housing on the moon.

    That would bring blacks into the space program in record time.

  26. Krister says:

    Are they crazy? I do not know much about spaceexploration but

    I know this, everybody is dependent of one another and if they

    set the standards lower so minorities can participate they risk

    the entire crew, do they not realise this? But I am not surprised

    really, In my country they lowered the standard to become a

    fireman so that women and various foreigners can apply, all in

    the name of multiculturalism, never mind that fireman is a very

    hazardous ockupation where people must trust that everybody do

    their part or else people die.

  27. deadindenver says:

    I know I’ve posted this before but it’s always relevant when ever blacks and the space program is mentioned “The Old Negro Space Program” The reality is the bell curve says there a few Blacks, a very very few relative to Whites & Asians that are capable of being Astronauts. But those same right enders of bell curve have many many other opportunities so may to choose to do something else. This forces affirmative action and less then capable applicants. Astronauts are the most visible part of the space program, so this is where the powers that be want to focus there affirmative action. The reality is the replacement human rated spacecraft will be highly automated. No need for a human pilot. Anyone will be able to be orbited. At least he did not bring up engineers, maybe he knows better. I wonder how many degreed Black aerospace engineers there are in the entire country or world for that matter 10, 20 maybe 50 at the most?

  28. Bon, From the Land of Babble says:

    What a sign of the times, how far we Whites have fallen.

    As I watched the launch of the “final space shuttle ever”, I felt as if I were watching the apex — and the end — of White Western Civilization– the final vestiges of reason, science, curiosity– blasted off into space.

    The epitome and former pride of White Western Civilization, NASA, now lorded over by a black and slated for the Memory Hole!

    I was sorry I had to witness this and was glad my dad is not alive to see the end of the American Space Program.

    Bolden, showing his incompetence, said he’ll take us “deeper into orbit” (whatever the meaning of “deeper into orbit”); no one in the media dared to question this great scientist as to the meaning of “deeper into orbit.”

    There is an ongoing effort to recruit more astronauts of color, women and other minorities.

    Astronauts are the face of the space program, receiving all the accolades, praise, ticker-tape parades, White House invitations, speaking engagements, called “heroes” by the government and media — easy to put black faces forward and parade them around as the “new image” of the new AmeriKan Space Program. The astronaut program is just one more in a long line of AA diversity programs on the government’s sick agenda to displace and eliminate Whites — glorifying the first black astronaut, first hispanic astronaut, first woman astronaut. Might as well go back to using dogs and monkeys.

    BUT, without the White nerdy types who thought up, designed, created, built and actually accomplished the INCREDIBLE feat of putting men into the harsh environs of space and returning them safely to earth, there would be NO astronauts, no men in space — black, hispanic, women or otherwise — and NO space program.

    Where are their accolades?

    Why isn’t Bolden calling for more black astro-geophysicists, planetary scientists, applied mathematicians, engineers, physicists and rocket fuel specialists? Could it be that those fields require an elite IQ, one that excludes 99.9% of blacks but includes enough of a “smart fraction” of Whites to put a man on the moon using slide rulers? That same White nerdy smart fraction that is now being denied admission to colleges in favor of lesser qualified blacks and hispanics?

    The alpha and omega of White Western Civilization has occurred with the White-created American space program taken over by blacks and government-enforced displacement of Whites continuing apace — certainly guaranteeing the end of any vestige of a space program.

    A barbarian has taken the throne. Expect a New Dark Age.


  29. Josh Harlan says:

    Gen X – post 16.

    Why is it that White innovation which to me really is White culture has been handed over to the world as ‘humanities achievements’ when we Whites (Caucasians) get to keep nothing for ourselves except our own little backward ethnic intricacies?


    Great observation. The whole world uses our technology, our ways of government, our math, our science – (is it possible to imagine the world without White’s contribution) – BUT we are supposed to be too stupid to assess other races, to accurately know what Black culture means, to know who to allow in our own country. We invented the whole world just so the whole world could call us stupid and evil.

  30. Anonymous says:

    If you look at old footage of NASA from the 1960’s when it achieved its greatest triumphs, you will clearly see that everybody is white. The push in our times for diversity is probably a factor in NASA’s decline, albeit unadmitted.

  31. ProudtobeWhite says:

    I recommend section 8 housing on the dark side of the moon, that might get blacks excited about space travel. Straight Outta Tranquility Base, yo.

  32. Anonymous says:

    “We’ve waited for answers that have not come. We’ve pleaded for answers that have not come,” committee chairman Ralph Hall (R-Texas) told Bolden. “We’ve run out of patience.”

  33. Anonymous says:

    Blacks will do to the space program what they did to Detroit and St. Louis….blacks lack the intelligence to even understand what space travel is all about.

    Just ask yourself this question : Would blacks ever have gone to the moon or invented space travel ever ?