Fifty years ago, NASA’s manned space program was grounded, still recovering after the Apollo1 disaster in 1967. “Lost in Space” was on television.
This week — a generation later — we find NASA’s manned space program grounded again, in the wake of the decision to discontinue American flights after the conclusion of the shuttle program in 2011.
And “Lost in Space” is again on television.
The new head of NASA is Jim Bridenstine, a former Republican representative from Oklahoma. Would you be shocked to learn that President Trump’s choice to run the space agency is not an actual scientist or engineer? Or that he is a climate change skeptic? Or that he has never run a large organization?
You probably wouldn’t. In fact, Mr. Bridenstine’s lack of qualifications make him a perfect fit for the Trump administration, a place that sometimes feels like what the kids in “Stranger Things” call the Upside Down, a world just like our own, except that everything there is inverted, darkened and corrupted.
What would Bridenstine’s main asset be, you ask, other than not having any science background? Well, he’s no fan of L.G.B.T.Q. people. Calling the Supreme Court ruling that made marriage equality the law of the land “disappointing,” he’s also on record as describing the Obama-era executive order supporting transgender students as “lawless federal bullying.” So he’s got that going for him.
You can see how someone without any science experience could be tapped to run NASA, as long as they could make up for it by demeaning gay and trans Americans, a group that of course included the first American woman in space, the unsinkable Sally Ride. Not to mention a transgender pioneer, Dr. Christine McGinn, who was flight surgeon for two shuttle missions. Talk about stranger things.