Editor's note: During the ISDC (International Space Development Conference) in Dallas last week, Flat Gorby made a number of appearances - both "in person" at the meeting and in the virtual version of ISDC in Second Life. Gorby appeared during a presentation by Yuri's Night Executive Director Loretta Hildalgo Whitesides - which also featured the Coalition for Space Exploration's Joe Mayer, and NASA's Strategic Communications Guru Bob Hopkins. It would seem that thought is now being given to inviting Gorby to be the official Mascot for Yuri's Night 2008 (Yuri's Night organizers are recruiting volunteers for 2008).
Meanwhile, a tentative concept is being floated inside NASA HQ whereby NASA would openly grab the Yuri's Night concept and do their own version. They want to call it "Footprints" and hold it at multiple NASA field centers on 20 July. They tout "Footprints" as being a "Yuri's Night for America". Gee, I thought that had already been accomplished.
While NASA Headquarters is certainly to be commended for appreciating the success (and significance thereof) of Yuri's Night 2007 at Ames (and elsewhere), I am not certain if they truly understand just how such an event actually happens - at least at the scale that was seen at ARC. There was a grassroots component - one mostly independent of NASA - one, which NASA, by definition, is simply incapable of creating. A substantial portion of what went on at Ames was donated.
Hopefully, NASA will decide, instead, to embrace and support existing the Yuri's Night organization (as the Coalition for Space Exploration did this year) by opening itself to these events and help these citizen-organized efforts grow and expand - fueled by citizen interest.
Besides, isn't it better to open the agency up such that taxpayers can embrace it and express their views as to what they want their space program to be - rather than to create yet another NASA controlled event where NASA blasts out its own ideas of what people should think - especially at a time when NASA's messages seem to fall on deaf ears?
Apply Now to be a part of the Yuri's Night 2008 Executive Team!
A Tale of Two Possible NASA Futures: Yuri's Night and The National Space Symposium, SpaceRef
An Interview With the NASA NEEMO 12 Crew and Their Mascot "Flat Gorby", Transcript, SpaceRef
Flat Gorby Sighting on ISS, earlier post