A Somewhat Modest Proposal

The following proposal was offered officially during our most recent Vodcast, NASA EDGE: Daytona 500.  I am posting it here in order to officially begin my campaign.

Here we go:

As of today, June 17, 2008, I am officially putting my medianaut pursuits on hold.  Instead, I am offering my talents, gifts and insight to NASA in a new capacity.  I am starting my own campaign to become NASA’s first Commissioner of Astronautics.  My campaign features four platforms designed to help NASA engage the public more directly in the exploration of Space.  As commissioner, I propose the following:

1.    Institute an annual Astronaut Draft (similar to professional sports drafts) wherein each directorate or division would receive a predetermined number of draft picks to fulfill their missions each year.  The draft would not be limited to rookie selections.  Veteran Astronauts would be eligible in the first year, but directorates could hold onto their best astronauts just like keeper leagues.

2.    Create a series of Astronaut Scouting Combines to help the various directorates/divisions gauge the skills within the NASA Astronaut talent pool.  These combines would be occur prior to the draft at key training facilities such as the NBL, Desert RATS, M113 Obstacle Course, etc.

3.    Merge the Mission schedule with a solid Playoff Model.  This is the most difficult, so I am willing to look at more of a merge between the Mission schedule and the bowl game system.  Each Directorate, based on performance, would receive a mission bid, just like bowls.  Those missions are then sponsored by commercial entities.  For example, the Lens Crafter Hubble Mission, or the Home Depot ISS Servicing Mission are possible.

4.    Developing a marketing manifesto to manage the huge amount of Public Relations opportunities.  Fantasy NASA.  Mission Play-by-play and color commentary, where you actually have the missions called by a team of broadcasters – live.  Another idea, again from professional sports, might include a live concert at NASA Kennedy Space Center for the fans just prior to launch.

I know that these ideas are radical, but I think I am on to something big.  Can I count on your support?

Get out and vote!  Photo Credit: A valued Blair 08 Campaign Volunteer

Commissioner of Astronautics (elect)

19 thoughts on “A Somewhat Modest Proposal”

  1. Blair, great idea. And with all the robot experiments and film, lets send a robot to the moon to seek and retrieve the golf ball that Alan Shepard hit while he was there. Can you imagine the bidding war on ebay or at Christies for that piece of history. Lets get Allen to sign it. WOW! If a dress of Marilyn Monroe’s fetched over 1 million dollars just imagine the fund raising potential. NASA and the Golf channel could cover the event.And what brand of ball was it? Of course that company would also get involved in the purchase of such memorbilia. Just scoop it up covered in moon dust and bag it. Have Allan sign it and drop it right back into it’s dust. I’m sure that this peice of history would bring the highest price ever paid at auction on earth. Happy Anniversary NASA 50 years Our prayers and pride go with you all.

  2. Liz: Excellent idea on the golf ball!

    Mike: It’s not a matter of voting but the fact that you responded to Blair’s email will make him extremely happy.

    I was a little worried that no one would respond to Blair’s proposal. Former veteran Astronaut, Brian Duffy, endorsed his proposal today during our interview with him at the Folklife Festival. I understand there is a lot of talk around NASA and the public about Blair’s proposal, but people are afraid to comment. I think he needs to come out with a short video providing how the astronaut draft will unfold.

    Blair: Action item to you sir. We need a short video to articulate your bold and crazy proposal.


  3. Blair, As the future elect commisioner I would like your opinion on my solution to global warming. I once saw a simple experiment where a black and a white peice of paper layed on the ground with a glass of water on each showed that the water on the white paper stayed cooler than the water on the black paper. White reflects heat,just like the polar caps. Since the heat on earth is melting the polar caps,they can’t do their job of maintaining climate.
    A PROPOSAL: I once saw the artist Cristi cover a landscape with fabric to give the illusion of a great fence. What if we laid acres of white fabric around the polar caps so the reflection of heat could continue and also cool the area to promote the ice growth once again?
    What do you think? As our future NASA Commisioner I thank you for your consideration on this matter.May the force be with us all.

  4. Well, I don’t really know a lot about sports drafting, but I would like to know who would be your first round draft pick, Blair! I’m sure headquarters will be game with this idea!

  5. Great Idea! And Blair, you have my full support! The creation of the astronaut draft would get people more involved and interested in the selection of those who make it into space. Although I am only slightly familiar with the bowl games, as my school doesn’t make it to major bowl games, it seems like this would also be a great way to get college students (in the 18-24 bracket 😉 interested in “all things NASA”. Oooh, and we could also have like a draft picks facebook application for this! (Just like they have with football-for bowl games; and basketball-for March Madness) Sounds great!!!

  6. The whole concept sounds inspiring. NASA can probably help families get a grip on raising there children. I for one, will be introducing “planes” to my children…
    you can make a whole new show out of this concept…sort of like an american idol extravaganza…people voting on teams…the “green’s”, “blue’s”, and “red’s”. people on each teams from different parts of the planet taking part.
    community/global involvement brings people together.
    (a lot has to happen for this big ball to roll)

    new catch phrase…”I Dream NASA”

  7. Blair, Blair, Blair… don’t you see the dangerous precedent you’d be setting here?

    The draft seems like a good idea, but you’ve got to get the marketing in line first. The plan itself should be sponsored by someone like Lance Armstrong, or Nike… or Carl’s Jr. You also have to make sure that you get those bobble-heads, directorate jerseys, and trading cards (especially those “worn during mission” special draws) lined up FIRST. Then we can move down this path.

    If you look at the WNBA as an example of a good startup, you’ll see that they locked in the players first, got people excited about the process, and THEN moved to a draft model. Get the directorates to market their astronauts first, and have them take on the burden of that marketing. Then you can swoop in, and implement your draft concept.

    You’ve got my vote, Blair.

  8. Number 8 is on to something…

    new missions to the moon and mars coming up…we got to get this general population living in the 70’s again!!! I say bring in Led Zeppelin for a space awareness concert…get Lacoste or Amercian eagle to design nice golf shirts…Levis to create the jeans and Puma creating foot wear.
    you got to get Puma up in space.

  9. Haha, Blair.

    Apparrently according to Guy Webster in an aritcle on Nasa.gov pertaining to difficulty that Nasa is experiencing while trying to sweep up ice deposits using the rovers robotic arm.

    I would like to ask, why doesnt NASA fly my mom to space she’s really good at sweeping 🙂

    Nice post

  10. “the huge amount of Public Relations opportunities”

    Step One: Prove that NASA can perform even good enough follow through on any of the current efforts to raise public (non-core, non-space-zealot, non-your-fanbase) awareness … as a start, pick getting NASA TV to be worht keeping on the air, that means understanding how to treat and court audiences who, with a click, can and obviously will, watch American Idle instead.

    Let’s pick a little thing that means a LOT.

    Consider: I’ve had DirecTV for many years (DirecTV, satellite receivers so the viewers already went out of their way to acknowledge Space tech). NASA TV has been in the DirecTV listings for at least more than a few of those years. Far back as I can remember there have only been TWO different “shows” on NASA TV, one being “ISS Mission Coverage” and the other “This Week At NASA/Gallery”

    Now we all know that there really are other actual shows and feature productions on NASA TV but if I were a non-zealot, just a person who maybe tuned into When We Left Earth and got excited and was right there ready to be converted to being really Pro-NASA I’d be open for getting more information and then I’d – for the first time – Notice that there even was a NASA TV

    (Hey: did NASA TV place an ad buy or make a request for scheduled time during When We Left Earth.. or even during all of the Science Channels’ Space Week features? I did’t see spots, did I miss NASA taking advantage of those prime opportunities at the mass fringe?)

    Anyway, as that viewer, I’d finally notice the NASA TV channel exists because Space was for a short while top-of-mind and I’d see those TWO long block listings repeating over and over and maybe I’d click on them to see what great things NASA was up to … and Maybe I’d get lucky and see NASA Edge or some other production and then If I was lucky enough to hit a show at the start I might want to set TIVO to record the whole series. And if all of those Maybes lined up then I’d be open for the conversion into a Fan of NASA and a voice up to those who can give NASA what it really needs.

    But I can’t. There are just those two listings and clicking on either of them is 100% hit or miss and not worth my setting TIVO to record… while every low budget Reality TV show can tell me immediately which episode is on and gives me a blurb on why it’s something I should watch.

    I called DirecTV just to have it confirmed that the listings are provided by the broadcaster (in this case a NASA office). Makes sense. I know that the listings are actually available because you can get them from the What’s On links off of the NASA TV site – IF you have the time and inclination to track them down.

    My attempts at getting the current schedule using Google first bring up Space.Com’s NTV schedule with listings that haven’t been updated since STS-97. I don’t get a direct URL to the schedule on NTV… seems along with not caring about updating the cable/sat carriers NTV isn’t very interested in Search Engine Optimization techniques.

    Another strike against the big picture, not only do they not seem to care but if they do they can’t compete technologically with most run of the mill eCommerce companies… is NASA full of SMART folks or not?

    But back to just the television. Since there is a schedule why isn’t it kept up to date on the DirecTV/Cable guides?

    That is NASA dropping a ball. Period. Fess up to it. And now it’s time to live that NASA Apollo 13 cliche quote: “Work the Problem, folks”.

    Having spent a lot of years in Radio and TV… I can only say that this little schedule communication issue is likely a symptom of a bigger station problem. It happening once or twice means that people got busy… it being the norm means that the bosses of the people who should be doing it don’t care. Bosses don’t care? Their bosses don’t care. All the bosses forgetting the paying customers? Customers (tax payers in this case) stop wanting to pay and new ones don’t sign up.

    American Idle’s executive team cares that their listings and blurbs are correct … and they get a lot more viewers and they get more water cooler talk and they get more fans and they get more money. Media management isn’t difficult, but NTV just doesn’t get that it is in a battle for eyeballs … eyeballs connected to voters. That is a shame. And little things like this going on, 9 times out of 10, is an easy barometer of a station’s death.

    If I was working on NASA EDGE or any of the other NASA productions I’d be feeling pretty under-valued. But the bigger deal is that most of the channel surfers who could be converted into habitual viewers and open for being turned into Fans of NASA aren’t being viewed by NASA as worth the time.

    Hey, it’s customer service and NASA is not in any way immune to having to compete for hearts of Americans… If NASA wants to get folks excited – and bubble that momentum up to pushing Congress/WH to pay for programs – it has to do the work that makes people feel like their spending (time, tax dollars… ) is worth something.

    If NASA’s PR people can’t do this little tiny thing consistantly right, just getting a schedule out and seeing that the operators are using it, then they should just close up the NTV shop and admit defeat on it and spend the money elsewhere because it’s always the little public things that add up to any Whole looking unprofessional to the people who really have to be convinced.

    Or as JFK put it in the ‘Before this decade is out’ speech…

    “If we are to go only half way, or reduce our sights in the face of difficulty, in my judgment it would be better not to go at all.”

    Have you ever heard that ENTIRE speech, all the way through? As I gorw older I don’t think many folks at NASA have heard it, at least not in the past 10 years or so and I’m really sure that the bosses of NTV haven’t listened to it even though ‘it tolls for them’ just as well as for the rest of the agency 😉

    Till the little things are done with follow through, don’t bother proposing new things. After the ‘that’s cool’ knee jerk the reality sets in and those people who started out strong will, like the others before them in other ‘neato NASA” hail-marys, give up and just look/feel like they can’t do anything right – again.

    Work the problems till they are fixed and get your basics running like a machine and then you can be trusted to take on new cool things.

    Prove me wrong? Love to see the stats.


  12. Wow~just visited the nasa tv schedule and somebody is listening. Regarding the post by ‘smith’ on 28 July about the tv schedule being non existent for tv viewer. I have asked on more than one occasion for the same thing, what’s on and when, as I too, have a programmable DVR from Dish network. While the tv shchedule is not available on Dish’s guide yet, they did put the hours video file and gallery would be on, now my DVR knows this too. The point I want to make today is that on the nasa tv website, the hourly content has been broken down into segments. Now I know that today for example, there will be airings of Voyager specials, Gemini specials and so on. This is a great improvement, and I hope those guys in programming keep up the good work. Now what I didn’t see was a listing for the next exciting episode of NASA Edge. Your show keeps getting better and better, thanks for all your efforts…we ARE watching and we DO care.

    Chris (NTH)

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