The Download: The NASA Field Trip, Washington Post
"Last week, a group of visiting business executives caught a glimpse of life in space as they climbed into the tiny room. The door slammed shut and the dome-like structure filled with pressurized air, causing the suit-clad guests' ears to pop. They were impressed, almost as much as they were with the flight simulators and the world's largest wind tunnel they had seen earlier. They had no idea, they kept saying, that so much "cool stuff" was just 150 miles south of Washington."
Editor's note: Um, and there is cool stuff at GSFC just outside the Beltway, at APL a bit further as well as STScI, out at Wallops where they can actually put things into space, and in West Virginia at IVV. Oh and they build all kinds of fascinating things at Orbital next to Dulles Airport.
The fact that local legislators - and the media - are surprised about all of this points to a chronic failing at NASA. The agency is hidden in plain sight. Yawn.
Then again, NASA DID try hard - the FolkLife Festival this summer on the National Mall here in Washington, DC was really quite an accomplishment. I guess the answer is simple: in order to demonstrate how NASA is indeed relevant, the agency needs to be in the face of the public - and the media - and all levels of government - 24/7/365 through whatever means necessary.
Oh wait, Congress and OMB constantly cut the funds for such things....
NASA Spinoffs 2008, earlier post