Day negative six, George Viebranz, 25 July 2006
"Strangely enough, despite a trip to the clinic yesterday for bloodwork and other reasons, I find myself forgetting that I'm lying down on Monday. This study has taken up roughly 70-75% of my brain since January when I first heard about it, and over the past few days I have caught myself thinking, "Oh yeah, that starts Monday." I am mostly excited, but also a little nervous. It's on par with an interview for a job I really want. But, as I have said before, everyone I have met that is connected with this study is beyond nice, beyond accommodating. Call me naive, but it seems like it could be smooth sailing for the most part. I'll deal with the hard parts when they come."
Editor's note: George Viebranz is about to embark on an earthbound space voyage - a NASA-funded bedrest study at the Cleveland Clinic. Such research helps NASA to understand the effects of prolonged microgravity exposure upon humans. Earlier this year Erin Peterson went through the same research protocol. You have to ask yourself why someone would take three months out of their lives to help NASA do research that might benefit astronauts - unless, of course, that person saw a value to human spaceflight. As such, you would expect that NASA would be featuring the exploits of these volunteers (they get paid next to nothing). But no, NASA doesn't seem to care. Indeed, when Erin Peterson got media exposure on CNN, it was directly because of being previously featured on NASA Watch - not because NASA PAO lifted a finger to help promote this important research.
At a time when NASA is struggling to stay relevant and to rationalize why it needs the budget that it gets, you'd think that the exploits of such role models as these bedrest study participants would be highlighted. Guess again. I don't know what passes for "strategic communications" at NASA HQ right now other than to suggest that NASA is preoccupied with responding to the messages it thinks it is received from the real world rather than the true impressions that taxpayers and Congress have of what it is actually doing.
Young people who devote months of their lives to NASA. There is a story there. Is NASA listening?
With regard to its relevance to the real world, NASA has its head stuck up its collective ass. It is well past the necessary time to pull it out and take a look at the real world wherein it operates.
And now NASA wants to eliminate all ISS research.
A clock is ticking, Mike.
"At a time when NASA seeks new ways to engage the public as to the value of space exploration and train the next generation of space explorers, to ignore the efforts of role models such as Erin Peterson borders on total incompetence. NASA Watch should not have to be doing NASA PAO's job."