The “Right” Stuff

Sorry to burden my gentle readers with Yet Another Space Policy Post, but over at Spaceref, Keith Cowing has a description of NASA’s new criteria for public space travelers, at least those planning to travel to the International Space Station. I find it quite troubling, and hope that my readers will as well.

“ISS crewmembers shall refrain from any use of the position of ISS crewmember that is motivated, or has the appearance of being motivated, by private gain, including financial gain, for himself or herself or other persons or entities. Performance of ISS duties shall not be considered to be motivated by private gain. Furthermore, no ISS crewmember shall use the position of ISS crewmember in any way to coerce, or give the appearance of coercing, another person to provide any financial benefit to himself or herself or other persons or entities.”

As Keith points out, this could have a potentially chilling effect on any commercial activities aboard the station. Can’t have any of that free enterprise stuff up there…

Also, there are some criteria that might be usable for arbitrarily keeping people off the station:

The following list defines some of the factors that would be considered as a basis for disqualification: (a) delinquency or misconduct in prior employment/military service; (b) criminal, dishonest, infamous, or notoriously disgraceful conduct; (c) intentional false statement or fraud in examination or appointment; (d) habitual use of intoxicating beverages to excess; (e) abuse of narcotics, drugs, or other controlled substances;(f) membership or sponsorship in organizations which adversely affect the confidence of the public in the integrity of, or reflecting unfavorably in a public forum on, any ISS Partner, Partner State or Cooperating Agency.”

Well, (b) would certainly exclude Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy, (c) would get Mr. Clinton again, and (d) would exclude Kennedy and a goodly proportion of the Congress.

But as Keith also points out, (f) is the most disturbing. It would, as he says, potentially preclude his being allowed to go. And perhaps me…