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The Rocket Launch Wallops Wants Everyone Except The Media To Know About

By Keith Cowing
May 18, 2021
Filed under
The Rocket Launch Wallops Wants Everyone Except The Media To Know About

Media Accreditation Open for Minotaur I Rocket Launch June 15 from NASA Wallops
“Media must apply for accreditation by 4 p.m. Friday, May 28, by sending a request to Keith Koehler at …”
Keith’s note: Yesterday I stumbled across a media advisory for media accreditation from NASA Wallops for a launch via someone’s Facebook page. It is posted by NASA here: Media Accreditation Open for Minotaur I Rocket Launch June 15 from NASA Wallops and is featured on the NASA Wallops Home page.
NASA Wallops never sent the media accreditation notice to the news media by email – the way that they are supposed to. I sent Wallops PAO an email asking why I was no longer on their media list. I did some checking on another missed media advisory and found out that the NASA listserver is broken right now. OK, that happens. But that is not what is going on here.

This morning I got an email from Keith Koehler at NASA Wallops PAO: “You are on the Wallops mailing list. The last release Wallops issued was the Black Brant XII KiNET-X release on May 6, which you should have received. Since the NROL-111/Minotaur 1 mission is a United States Space Force and NRO mission, Wallops did not send out the accreditation announcement but only posted it on our web and social media sites.” Huh? I can understant that NRO wants to play things down. But that is not is what Wallops is doing: they are playing it up for the millions in the area – but not for the media who might cover it. If you don’t want the media to know about this then maybe, hint hint. you don’t want to be splashing it all over your website and social media. Just a thought.
So I replied: “This is a NASA Media Advisory posted on a webpage and on your NASA Wallops Facebook page. The launch happens at a NASA Facility and you, a NASA Civil servant, are the point of contact. If this is not a NASA mission and NASA wants to play that down, then why are you even involved as a POC? Why even mention the launch? Posting the advisory as a tweet, posting it on a publicly available web page, and featuring as the top story on the Wallops home page clearly signifies NASA WFF interest in making this launch known to the public – in advance. But deliberately not telling the news media – or at least making it harder for them to find out – is not the transparency that the agency supposedly endorses and sounds like a slow motion attempt to keep the media visibility down. All I can take away from this is that you either have no process for handling the PR associated with this launch or that you really do not want the media there but you want the public to see the launch and you hope the media won’t care. You guys have a really confused way of handling education and public outreach at Wallops.”

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