Can't We All Get Along

Keith's note: As you may recall there was an aborted protest of sorts being mounted at the recent 5 August meeting of the Augustine Committee. According to this article placards/bumper stickers that said "Mars Direct - Cowards Return To The Moon" were found in several locations at the Carnegie Institute, the host of that day's meeting.

According to sources at NASA when staff supporting the Augustine Committee arrived at the Carnegie Institution to prepare for the meeting they found these bumper stickers already mounted on placards that had been placed all around the auditorium as well as at various other places in the building.The staff cleaned up as many as they could find - but apparently, not all of them.

A Mars Society member has admitted that he did this on his own volition and the Mars Society claims that they knew nothing about this. Regardless of what actually happened, one would hope that Mars Society members learned a lesson from this. Public protests are a good thing to do. Done properly and strategically, they can have a marked effect on the course of policy development. But you need to send a message that the recipients i.e. the people who might join your cause and/or are in a position to support or thwart your efforts, can do something with.

Space exploration is not exactly on the top of everyone's list here in Washington. As such, neither does this town's political radar easily register the interests of what are commonly called "space advocates". When space advocates do manage to gain the attention of presidential advisory committees in this fashion, there is collateral damage to the efforts of all space advocates since the message sent - and received - was "we can't even agree among ourselves".

Its not as if space advocates do not have a sympathetic ear at NASA. Just look at what the agency's Deputy Administrator and the Chief Of Staff have on their resumes. Give them something that they can work with. A groundswell of impassioned public support - voiced in a variety of fora - can be a tool that they and the Administrator can use to argue for a more expansive and inclusive space program.

But arguing against or for spending billions of dollars to visit a specific planet for reasons that boil down to "because I say so" is not going to have much effect when the news features daily public protests about the economy, health care, and wars in the Middle East. Space advocates need to find a reason why people - regular taxpayers and policy makers alike - should care about space when "we have so many problems here on Earth".

So far, I haven't seen one.

This is Why People Often Don't Take Space Advocates Seriously, earlier post

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on August 13, 2009 10:18 AM.

No Bucks, No Buzz Lightyear was the previous entry in this blog.

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