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Ron Garan's Earth Gazing – Who Is Actually In Charge of NASA Public Affairs?

By Keith Cowing
September 26, 2011
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Photo: Ron Garan’s Last Day in Space
@ASTRO_RON: “How I spent my last day in space.
That’s me in the cupola of the International Space Station off the coast of Australia taking my last of over 25,000 pics that I still want to share w/ everyone.”

Keith’s note: I am confused. Astronaut Ron Garan flies to the International Space Station and sends a non-stop stream of personal – and cool – photos back to Earth via Twitter and Twitpic. Well, these photos usually do not always end up on NASA’s Human Spaceflight website but some of them appear on his personal (?) website at (the domain is registered to some anonymous individual in Bellveue, Washington) – a website that never seems to use the word “NASA” – unless you scroll to the small text at the bottom of the page with a micro NASA logo. Guess what – that link is to . Try it. It does not work. It should say which does work. Looks like no one bothered (or cared) to check.
Are NASA funds used to run this website? If so, then why the lack of coordination with If not, then why isn’t NASA running such a high profile site that highlights such a prominent activity that its own official website seems to not want to highlight? Some (but not all) of these photos and commentary by Ron Garan also appear at NASA’s blog site.
Ron Garan is a NASA civil servant who was on official duty at taxpayer expense on the ISS. We paid his airfare. We should all be seeing everything he sends back to Earth, without having to hop around various websites, right? NASA should endeavour to collect all that he sends back to Earth – in one place – so as to maximize this dissemination of information to the public. But that is not the case.
These “NASA” sites do not even link to each other. Who is in charge here? NASA PAO?, HEOMD? Ron Garan? Until NASA figures out how to coordinate its “messages” it will be hobbled by stove piping and hobby shop approaches to education and public outreach. The scattered nature of this otherwise inspiring series of photos and operations exposes just how uncoordinated NASA is these days when it comes to telling the taxpaying public what it is doing and why. And then they have the nerve to complain when the public does not seem to understand what they are doing.
Cool stuff Ron. You done good. Some of your stuff is jaw dropping. As a result, perhaps the rest of the agency can learn how to work together as one cohesive and cooperating entity in the future?
This is an awesome image worth spreading across our planet. Is it featured at

Keith’s note: From what I have been able to piece together HEOMD’s Beth Beck (the creator of the failed NASA BuzzRoom) is behind this site. Elyse David is the “Executive Producer and Founding Crewmemeber” of Fragile Oasis according to her Twitter page. Beth Beck does more or less whatever she wants to do on this website with near zero coordination with NASA PAO. Despite multiple requests in the past for metrics and a plan for education and public outreach Beth has been unwilling/unable to provide me with anything. Yes, Ron Garan’s photos and commentary have been amazing – but when they are not coordinated with’s much larger distribution system, they suffer from less than full visibility they might otherwise attain. The net result is that NASA’s limited funding for such things is not being spent in the best way possible. Once again one part of NASA simply does not care to coordinate with the other.

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.