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NASA's new policy chief took her oath on a copy of Carl Sagan's "Contact"
Charity Weeden will help shape the future of space exploration
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On Monday, Charity Weeden was sworn in as the new associate administrator for NASA’s Office of Technology, Policy, and Strategy. Her office will help guide the agency’s strategic planning and investments, shaping the future of space exploration.
When you read her résumé, it’s easy to see why she’s a perfect fit for the job. She spent more than two decades with the Royal Canadian Air Force, was senior director of policy at the Satellite Industry Association, and earned her masters degree in Space Science.
But it’s also really wonderful to see the book on which she swore her oath. Rather than using a Bible, she placed her hand on a copy of Carl Sagan’s Contact.
There’s no mention of that in the press release from NASA, but you have to appreciate the homage to someone who truly represented the joy and awe of exploring the universe and a book that questions what (or who!) might be out there.
She’s not the first person to do something like this either. It was just this past April when Dr. Makenzie Lystrup, who became the first-ever female director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, took her own oath on a copy of Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot. Is this a new trend? We can only hope.
Either way, it’s a fantastic way to make an otherwise standard oath even more personally meaningful. In January, when the new Congress was sworn in, Rep. Robert Garcia took his oath on a handful of meaningful objects, including a copy of Superman #1, which he was able to use on loan from the Library of Congress. None of the items included a Bible. Other politicians have used a Dr. Seuss book, law books, the Koran, and Hebrew bibles. There’s no law requiring people to use the Bible. And if you’re going to use a book of fantasy, there are far better options than that one.
To use a book that has both personal meaning and represents the office you’re about to hold? That’s a tradition more office holders ought to consider.
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