Space is boring, but don’t throw the NASA openness baby with the waterby @amoroso@twitter on Mar 18, 2010 • 5:48 PM
At SpaceUp 2010, Andy Cochrane @avclubvids gave the short talk Space Is BORING (via Evadot), in which he vividly expressed the feelings of a significant part of the space community about NASA public outreach for its boring, unexciting style. The frequent static, silent images aired by NASA TV are hardly effective at engaging the public.
Andy contrasted NASA outreach with new private space enterprises, which may be better at talking in a touching and engaging way about real, ordinary people and finally show the public how cool and awesome space is.
Besides giving to private space companies new entrepreneurial and technological opportunities, the Obama plan for NASA may make them play a major direct or indirect role also in space outreach.
Will NewSpace be willing and able to match or exceed NASA’s openness in freely releasing all sorts of information, data, images, and videos, and in providing access to facilities and personnel? How will NewSpace address the “engage, inspire” space mantra? Can this be done with limited or no openness?
My name flew into space on board winning Ansari X PRIZE vehicle SpaceShipOne, and I am a fan of the new breed of young, bold private space enterprises. They, not NASA, might one day make my lifetime dream of flying into space reality. And I agree with most of Andy’s points. But the — understandable — secrecy of some prominent private space companies, and the limited information they release, may not be a good start on the openness issue.
Without enough openness, and NASA currently wins hands down, the future of space outreach might look like an emotionally engaging, but scarcely informative, weird mix of Soviet era secrecy and Gen Y exuberance: “XYZ Aerospace has just blasted into orbit the coolest spacecraft ever! Hey, there are people inside. They report they are feeling weeeell! That’s awesome!!!”.
Speaking of openness and engagement, what do you think?