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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Once an astronaut, always an astronaut?

Astronaut Hernandez
Jose Hernandez flew in space, but his astronaut identity is now under political and legal fire, reports The Fresno Bee, as a political wedge issue being developed in a California Congressional campaign. The NASA trained  astronaut is learning the difference between rocket science and political science the hard way, it appears.

In a pointed challenge, a Sacramento law firm is asking a judge to block Hernandez from describing himself as an "astronaut/scientist/engineer" on the June 5, 2012 primary ballot as he seeks to challenge freshman Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock in the November General Election. The lawsuit notes Hernandez has left NASA.

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"Hernandez's attempted use of 'astronaut' violates the [California] Election Code's unambiguous requirement that a candidate's ballot designation reflect one's current profession, vocation, or one held during the previous calendar year," the lawsuit states.

The case may be one of first impression in the United States of how one defines astronaut. It is most commonly defined as "a person engaged in or trained for spaceflight." However, the California lawsuit alleges that "astronaut is not a title one carries for life."

Hernandez trained and flew as a NASA astronaut spending 14-days in space as a member of the crew of STS-128 on a space station construction mission in September 2009. The legal challenge is a novel approach to challenging a Congressional candidate's credentials.

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1 comment:

Craig A. Glesner said...

Thanks for the news! I sent the law firm the note below:

To whom it may concern:

It has come to my attention that you are attempting to strip a man of his title of Astronaut. I hope that this merely rumor and your firm has not stooped so low as to try and take the rarest human achievement there still is left all in the name of petty politics. You can not remove from him the fact that he spent time in space. If we allow retired military personnel, Representatives, Senators, Vice Presidents and Presidents to retain their titles after they leave a mere Earth bound office, then surely we can not strip from those who braved space theirs. To do so would shame, you, me, our nation and all those who went before us to open the last frontier.

Also, it bodes ill, that you would have to attempt to take the title from the man in fear that this might make him more electable. Okay, basically it looks like your client can't beat the astronaut and you are low enough to try.

Again, shame on both of you.

Craig A. Glesner.

Postscript: I am mistaken, then feel free to disregard this note.