Keith's note: On Wednesday NASA will officially sponsor a teleconference with NASA NIAC grantee Phil Lubin about the Breakthrough Initative's Starshot project to mount the first interstellar mission. But unless you are a pal of a certain NASA civil servant, you won't be allowed to listen in live - even though NASA is paying for this event. Indeed, unless this certain employee decides to tell you, NASA won't even tell you that this event is happening in the first place.
Harley Thronson, a NASA civil servant at GSFC, has operated this series of NASA FISO telecons as a part of his official NASA duties. These telecons use a taxpayer-funded telephone system, are announced via nasa.gov email (email@example.com) and Thronson devotes billable hours to their operation. The telecons are interesting and relevant to the interests of a wide variety people within (and most importantly) outside of NASA. Yet despite an abundance of directives to all government agencies about making their activities open and transparent to taxpayers, Harley and his pal Dan Lester at the University of Texas in Austin go out of their way to not to tell taxpayers that these teleconferences even exist. Indeed, they block specific taxpayers by targeting their IP address (check this page - its what I see when I try to view information on something my taxes pay for) from having the same level of access as other taxpayers do. This link used to say this.
Thronson and Lester also adopt an elitist stance when it comes to who can - and who cannot - access information about these telecons or listen to them in real time. If they do not deem you to be worthy (no criteria have ever been posted) then you cannot dial in - because you won't know that there is something to dial into. To justify their favoritism they have posted a goofy and arrogant excuse as to why most people will never be allowed to listen to these events live claiming that they are compliant with NASA regulations in this regard because you can listen to things later. Later or delayed access is not the same as live access. And if you do not even know about these teleconferences in the first place, then the whole later Vs live issue is moot. They are operated in a stealth fashion for a hand-selected audience. Dan Lester is clearly ignorant as to the wide variety of open teleconference options that are available - at no cost to participants who dial in.
Wednesday's NASA FISO telecon starts at 3 pm EDT. You can dial in to +1.844.467.4685 - the passcode is 442398. If you cannot gain access I have posted email and address information for Thronson and Lester so that you can contact them directly.
- Another Stealth #JourneyToMars Telecon at NASA, earlier post
- NASA FISO Telecon Organizers Are Confused, earlier post
- How NASA Quietly Releases Alternate Mars Mission Concepts (Update), earlier post