NASA Seeks To Regenerate Youth InterestBy Michelle
January 8, 2007 - 8:09 PM
NASA is seeking to reverse a trend of youth apathy about sending people into space, hoping to excite young people with the prospect of visiting the moon and Mars.
The UK's Guardian has an Associated Press report on efforts by the aeronautics agency to understand why 18-to-25-year-olds express apathy about human spaceflight, based on surveys by the Houston-based Dittmar Associates Inc. "If you're going to do a space exploration program that lasts 40 years, if you just do the math, those are the guys that are going to carry the tax burden," said company president Mary Lynne Dittmar.
Adam Humphries, a student at a community college less than ten miles from Cape Canaveral, Florida, where NASA launches its shuttles, said "It's not interesting anymore. There's nothing new that everybody can catch onto." The shuttle program is scheduled to end after the completion of the international space station, with Orion spacecraft then becoming NASA's planned vehicle for transporting humans in the nearby solar system.
NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said he thought that once trips to Mars were actually feasible, there would be renewed interest in spaceflight. "If we make it clear that the focus of the United States space program for the foreseeable future will be out there, will be beyond what we do now, I think you won't have any problem at all reacquiring the interest of young people," he said.
NASA plans to use podcast, YouTube and other youth-oriented programming to attract the attention of the astronauts of tomorrow, whom the administrators consider as important as Congress when it comes to keeping public interest and funding. Celebrities like Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard) and David Duchovny (The X-Files' Fox Mulder) will also be recruited to help attract interest.
"When you don't have that kind of personality, or face, or faces associated with your issue, it's a little bit harder for the public to connect," said George Whitesides of a space advocacy group, the National Space Society.
The original article is here.