Bill NyeMay 01, 2013

The White House Science Fair and an Earful for Bolden

For the second time since becoming your CEO, I got invited to the White House Science Fair. The student projects were impressive. A few patents were issued; a few startup companies were formed; and six-figure scholarships were awarded, all to these remarkable young scientists. As a longtime science education advocate, I am gratified that the administration understands and celebrates science and the innovations it always brings.

Bill Nye Greets President Obama
Bill Nye Greets President Obama Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye greets President Obama during the 2013 White House Science Fair.Image: The White House

This year, several of the science presentations were outside on the White House lawn. I spent several minutes on camera with LeVar Burton, who is a very strong advocate for education and who understands its importance for the future of the U.S. economy. He and I had a wonderful time talking with the students, who, I’m sure, are the future of industry.

While we were waiting to hear the President’s remarks, I spoke for a few moments with Dr. John Holdren, the President’s Science Adviser. I also took advantage of being seated right in front of Charlie Bolden, the Administrator of NASA, who ultimately controls the 17.7 billion dollar NASA budget. We talked about piloting fighter planes and the need to control costs in any procurement of just about anything in aerospace. I kept going with the conversation and explained that we at The Planetary Society are strong advocates of maintaining the budget line for Planetary Science at $1.5 billion, or less than 10% of the big picture at NASA. And also that we are strong advocates of following the guidelines and recommendations of the Decadal Survey.

It’s an odd thing to be supported by members like you, fighting this fight for so many months, and then be given a chance to talk to The Main Man. Charlie was very receptive... or he is a very good listener. So far, Congress has been very supportive of the idea of rejecting the latest round of cuts to Planetary Science. So, with your strong support and our steady drumbeat of a clear, concise, persuasive message, maybe we are getting the job done. Thank you all.

The Planetary Fund

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