January 16, 2004

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NASA is reaping a huge PR windfall from it's Mars mission. The disaster of the shuttle is being smoothed by the kudos and hype over this new mission. At the same time Bush is pushing for the moon and Mars. But isn't the current mission proof that sending a man to the moon or Mars is just silly? For a fraction of the cost, good scientific mission can be conducted and generate almost as much hoop-ala. As an added bonus, it's what NASA should be doing. Science.

That said it always seems like NASA has at least one eye on the media when it conducts missions. Press releases, snappy quotes, websites. It's all set up as a form of entertainment. Take this as an example:

The rover Spirit successfully rolled onto Mars yesterday, placing its six wheels on solid Martian ground for the first time since it bounced down on the Red Planet nearly two weeks ago.

Engineers and scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory cheered loudly after receiving confirmation at 9pm AEDT that the manoeuvre was a success.

"Mars now is our sandbox, and we are ready to play and learn," said JPL director Charles Elachi.

If NASA spent half as much on PR flaks to think up clever things to say and more on science, the PR would look after itself. It seems like every mission has to have a team to organise the mission and another to organise the PR. I understand that part of their job is to bring science to the public and make sure the taxpayer understands what value for money they are getting.

What they do is already awesome enough without the need for hyperbole.

posted by Simon on 01.16.04 at 02:00 PM in the


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but where would hollywood get great plot lines for films like apollo 13 without nasa? besides all this "10 years to go to the moon" stuff is rubbish. they vcould go there tomorrow. i know. i saw armageddon. you couldn't make that stuff up so it must be true.

posted by: english on 01.16.04 at 02:24 PM [permalink]

'If NASA spent half as much on PR flaks to think up clever things to say and more on science, the PR would look after itself.'

I'm not sure I buy that, Simon. At least, not without seeing the stats for how much they spend on PR compared to how much they spend on everything else. A team of good PR people can't cost all that much compared to flying shuttles to the moon. . . can it?

posted by: Nicholas Liu on 01.16.04 at 04:30 PM [permalink]

Nicholas has a good point. Plus, I'm not sure that the general public *would* get it without the PR hype. There are still many who don't believe we went to the moon, and ask 'what did we ever get out of NASA?'

posted by: Ted on 01.16.04 at 09:19 PM [permalink]

PR is required dude. Without the average Joe Blow wouldn't care less, or even have a clue what was going on. NASA's hurting for funding, and without reminding folks about the amazing stuff they are doing, they'll fade into nothing.

posted by: nekkid on 01.19.04 at 11:56 AM [permalink]

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