Selling Space

May 16, 2010

This is an extended post based on my comment to @keithcowing ‘s ever excellent NASAWatch:
Media Bias in Shuttle Coverage?
It got me thinking about the disconnect between “Down Here” and “Out there!”
A few points:

“It’s the Science Stupid”
It’s not just space coverage that is poorly reported by the Main Stream Media [MSM] but science coverage in general. In addition to its somewhat ‘dry’ nature, Science gets little coverage because the media types don’t have a science background. Media types understand the media. Locked in this media bubble the development of the current Celebrity culture with a focus on Hollywood becomes a given.
This is a positive feedback loop.
It will get worse.

This does however suggest a solution: cultivating Celebs who espouse Space. Tom Hanks and James Cameron spring to mind. Giving Colbert the chance to train as an Astronaut may be the best thing NASA ever does for public outreach. Short of putting him up there via a Soyuz. (Fingers crossed!) And whilst they are at it @milesobrien is owed one too.
[Miles O’Brien is a long time Science and Space News journalist who was to be the first American reporter in space. Alas Columbia…]

I would add here for the British reader that our very own ‘Major’ Tim Peake is an ideal focus for the pro-Space agenda:
UK astronaut Tim Peake makes first weightless flight. (BBC)

“No bucks. No Buck Rogers.”
Alas the public are all too satisfied with the fictional Buck Rogers. Reality comes in a poor second. IMHO it was Star Trek that destroyed public interest in RealSpace. As fighting and then making friends with the Klingons, Borg, etc. was far more satisfying.

I TOTALLY agree with Keith that there should be a better connection between the product of Hollywood and NASA. Actors and Producers need to be courted and supported if a movie has a ‘space theme.’
We need a “Space Camp” for the next generation and more product placement. I would suggest a TV Serial along the lines of Moonbase 3 or Star Cops. I.e near term human drama in space.

Defying Gravity” (<–really good criticism piece here) is a perfect example of how not to do it!

Conversely the BBC’s excellent Space Odyssey: Voyage To The Planets was nigh on perfect. And that, as my friends know, is true praise indeed! All which goes to prove my hypothesis. Here in the UK we don’t have a real space program so naturally our Space Programmes are better! Indeed we have a Space-Time program based in Cardiff!

“The World according to [the] Gap!”
Frequenting and commenting on the various Space Blogs in the States (sad BOF that I am!) this Space Cadet continue to be AMAZED by the partisan comment that swamps every topic under the sun. I am reminded of the politics between Clinton and Gingrich. Only worse. Whilst the broad right and patriots bemoan “The Gap” and the Tea Party claim that anything Obama does is a commie plot to destroy Amerika… This is NOTHING like the interregnum between Apollo and Shuttle. (July 24, 1975 to April 12, 1981.) Indeed it is an amazing opportunity to demonstrate the international nature of the effort.

Some space propaganda needs to be revisited.
Footage includes the son of Khrushchev stating that one of his father’s regrets was not accepting Kennedy’s offer to go to the Moon as a partnership. The history of Apollo-Soyuz and how we got to where we are on the ISS.


At the low point perhaps NASA/MSM could sponsor a Space tourist and follow their progress through Russian space training. Or better still the process a Flight Engineer has to undergo.
Survival training in Siberia anyone!

Also needed is better coverage of international partners. NASATV has started this. But there is room for improvement! I would suggest a series on Space Ports co-sponsored by the Discovery Channel. Featuring the usual suspects plus the newcomers Brazil and India and a chance to see behind the Bamboo Curtain! Iran?

“Childrens Crusade”
The fusion between children (of all ages) and the biggest sand pit ever (our Moon) using Tele-Robotics is freaking ginormous. But most here will know that I have been banging on about this topic forever. For those that don’t:


  1. Great thoughts! Thanks for posting. 😀

  2. Wow, the months pass fast and when I return here there are several wonderful posts to read. This one is particularly poignant. Thank you!

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