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NASA Playing Politics, Cuts Ties with Russia – Quite Unscientific

With everything that’s going on in the world today, it’s become exceedingly difficult to really grasp the truth behind many issues.  Take, for example, the ongoing and apparently dangerous issues happening in Ukraine right now.  The country has essentially been invaded by Russia in a display of military might that hasn’t been seen on this planet in many years.  In spite of, or perhaps because of that military might, not a single shot has yet been fired in that effort, even though the people of the Ukraine have witnessed much violence in recent months.

The news outlets in the west are, of course, fulfilling their role as disseminators of disinformation and questionable theory, mixed in with ample pop-culture distraction.  It’s become so very difficult to judge what’s really happening.  And governmental posturing, or as it’s often called, sabre rattling, gives us even more cause for confusion, it not concern.  Up until now though, their various political sanctions and talking points have had little impact on us as a people (whatever country you’re in).  Recalling diplomats from foreign offices, imposing travel restrictions and even economic incentives to avoid certain trade channels amounts to little more than a nuisance to most people, if they have any effect at all on the population as a whole.

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However…one so-called political sanction has been carried out that serves to be a set-back to all humanity.  That might be a smidge overstated, but bear with me.

An internal memo from NASA leadership was leaked yesterday, that memo went out to all of their internal department heads and officials, and it outlined NASA’s withdrawal from any and all scientific or logistic endeavours with the Russian Space Agency or Russian contractors.

Of course, that doesn’t include joint efforts related to the International Space Station, nor does it relate to any projects based anywhere else in the world that might include the Russians.  You’re probably aware that NASA, in conjunction with several other space agencies from other nations, is in the habit of catching rides into near-Earth orbit, to visit, resupply, and support the ISS, aboard the vessels of the very people they are now overtly attempting to alienate.  Russia happens to be the only nation currently able to facilitate such logistical efforts, which became even more essential with the decommissioning of the entire Space Shuttle program.

So, what do we have here?

This appears to be NASA’s very first political statement (even if it is only through action) on any subject.  It’s a statement that says: ‘we – whoever we is actually supposed to be – do not agree with the Russian occupation of Ukrainian territory; we do not recognise the rights of the Russian government, however they might apply to their claim to or responsibility to assist Russian citizens living in Crimea or elsewhere.  We do not agree with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions or policies and we impose these sanctions by proxy for the will of the people we represent.

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Whether we, or you, agree with what’s happening in Ukraine is secondary to this issue (perhaps even tertiary, in some ways).  Don’t fall for the political sleight of hand taking place here, please don’t fall for it.  In any event, please realise that it’s ultimately an impotent attempt to express misguided political manipulation.

NASA is not a political agency.

NASA is not even remotely involved in the electorate process.

NASA is not and has never been authorised to speak for the American people, nor the people of any other country.

Here’s the simple truth of it; NASA is a scientific entity, a research entity, a mechanism and vehicle for the exploration of our world, our planet, and the cosmos.  That effort, though undertaken in the name of the United States of America, is supposed to be for the benefit of everyone on the planet.  Not just for those who comply with the American government’s political ideals.

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Science and politics are unfortunately intertwined through the complex maze of funding and public outreach, but scientific institutions must remain politically neutral in order to remain effective.  That doesn’t mean they should be free from morals or ethics, but those ethics must be fed by a responsibility to humanity, and to the planet, and deliberately, expressly…must not be beholden to any one nation.  And certainly not to any one political party.

You may have an opinion on what’s happening in the region of Ukraine, and that opinion may be based on impartial, well researched sources of information, or it might be the product of headlines you’ve seen on social media feeds, but whatever you believe is happening, or should be happening on these issues, it is not and should never be related to the pursuit of scientific truth, and the purveyors of that truth should not be given to flights of political fancy.

I foresee the point of this post being missed, whether willfully or not, but in your inevitable commentary, I ask only that you retain your maturity.