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NASA outreach program confirmed despite White House denial

By Samyuktha

Washington, July 15 (ANI): The White House is disavowing a plan to have NASA conduct outreach to Muslim countries, but a congressman who talked to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden about that plan last month said the initiative was very real until somebody slammed the brakes on it.

Rep. Pete Olson, ranking Republican on the Space and Aeronautics House Subcommittee, told FoxNews.com that Bolden described the outreach program as part of the administration's space plan during a conversation they had in June.

Though Bolden mentioned the outreach months ago during a speech in February, it drew widespread attention after he described it as a "foremost" priority during an interview with Al Jazeera last month.

The administration initially stood by the claim, but White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that Bolden misspoke and that the outreach is "not the task of NASA."

Olson said that to his knowledge no collaboration with Muslim countries actually took place.

He said such a collaboration could raise concern about missile technology falling into the wrong hands.

At the same time, he said NASA doesn't have much classified information to share. He described the agency as a cash-strapped arm of the federal government in dire need of some TLC.

The comments drew fire from conservatives and former NASA officials already on high alert over the administration's move to cut funding for the NASA Constellation program. (ANI)

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