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NASA Ignores The Same Next Generation It Hypes

By Keith Cowing
September 29, 2015
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NASA Ignores The Same Next Generation It Hypes

NASA Is the Unlikeliest ‘Design Firm’ in Human History, Observer
“Earlier this month, a young maker named Ahmed Mohamed was arrested while wearing a NASA t-shirt after bringing a homemade clock to his high school. Photographs of Ahmed in handcuffs circulated around the globe along with the space agency’s logo creating a new context for its design and purpose. NASA tweeted a response to the arrest with a STEM-related message of support and for a moment, the agency’s brand became a symbol of social progress.”
Let’s let Ahmed go back to being a kid, Dallas Morning News
“In the last week alone, he has had star turns at a science conference in California and a technology summit in New York. He has shared the spotlight with the CEO of Google, the queen of Jordan, the founder of Mashable. Ahmed is a social-media phenomenon, a one-word brand, a global political symbol. Ahmed’s a star. He’s also a 14-year-old kid, and I hope he can return to normal 14-year-old kid life when the Ahmed World Tour 2015 is played out. The last thing he needs that any kid needs is to be a divisive political symbol.”
Larry Wilmore interviews Ahmed Mohamed about arrest, USA Today
“After watching Larry Wilmore of The Nightly Show interview 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed, we feel the need to up our tech game. And get a NASA shirt. The kid is just too cool.”
Keith’s note: Ahmed Mohamed brought an ad hoc science project to school. A digital clock to be specific. His (apparently ignorant) teacher thought it was a bomb – because – who knows. Ahmed was taken to the police station in handcuffs and questioned for hours without access to a lawyer or his parents. He was wearing a t-shirt with a huge NASA logo on it when he was taken into custody. How many kids wear a NASA t-shirt to school? He wore that same t-shirt for days after his questioning in various media interviews. Its not like that is the only shirt he owns. As such, one could reasonably conclude that Ahmed is a big NASA fan.
So … here comes “The Martian” and all of that wonderful rah-rah can-do pro-NASA goodness blasted into a zillion pairs of eyeballs. NASA is working closely with the movie to promote a variety of things to inspire the next generation of space explorers. Great idea (really). Well … one of those future explorers was taken into custody while wearing a NASA t-shirt because he got creative and pushed the envelope. He has subsequently been offered internships, guided tours, and all manner of things by companies and organizations – and he seems to be totally cool – even gracious – with the opportunities that have found their way to him. Even the White House asked him to drop by next month for an astronomy thing.
Ahmed is a space fan – big time. So what does NASA do? Do they even bother to invite Ahmed to visit NASA or offer access to its activities like so many others have done in other areas? No. All he gets is a couple of tweets. Yet the agency blissfully trips over its collective self to give unprecedented media access for a movie about fake astronauts – while a real future Mark Watney gets the cold shoulder after showing precisely the same character traits that NASA and Hollywood are hyping.
How pathetic and short-sighted.

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.