NASA's latest mission may be its most challenging - defending itself against a lawsuit by a former employee who said he was demoted, and eventually fired, for promoting his views on intelligent design.
Opening arguments are expected today in Los Angeles Superior Court in the case of David Coppedge vs. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Coppedge once worked as a team leader on a satellite mission to explore Saturn and its many moons. Coppedge alleges that he engaged his co-workers in dialogue concerning his belief that a higher power had a hand in creation. Coppedge said he lost his "team lead" title in 2009 and was let go in 2011 after 15 years on the mission.
JPL, in its court filings, said Coppedge had received a written warning because his co-workers complained of harassment. They also said Coppedge had "ongoing conflicts with others."
Coppedge's attorney says his client was singled out by NASA management because they perceived his belief in intelligent design to be religious.