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NASA Astronaut Jose Hernandez
Once an astronaut, always an astronaut, right?
Four decades later, we still think of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as astronauts.
But the same standard may not apply in California. A Republican law firm has gone to court to prevent a former NASA astronaut, Jose Hernandez, from listing "astronaut" as one of his professions on the ballot.
The argument, as detailed in the Fresno Bee, is that since Hernandez, from the San Joaquin Valley, has not been on the NASA payroll in more than a year, he no longer qualifies as an astronaut.
Election law says that candidates should list their current profession.
If that standard holds, it means that, at least in California, there are no astronauts anymore. The space shuttle -- upon which Hernandez flew in 2009 -- has been grounded for good. America's manned space program is, for now, over.
Of course, even if Hernandez loses, the lawsuit may help him -- by fueling news coverage and controversy that reminds people that he was an astronaut.
That's good for a first-time candidate -- and engineer by training -- who is running on his biography rather than any discernible agenda (my own attempts to get him to talk and explain his positions on issues have gone nowhere).