Thursday, August 9, 2007

NASA This Week

NASA finally racked up some successes this week--the Phoenix Mars Lander lifted off without a hitch on its scouting mission to Mars' northern plains; the space shuttle Endeavour launched with teacher-astronaut Barbara R. Morgan aboard, bringing bittersweet closure to the story of Christa McAuliffe.

But just when you start to sense a heartbeat within the bureaucracy, NASA comes out with something like this, the sort of zombie-brained memo that could only be produced by committee. The memo outlines NASA's new "Message Construct," including the Core Message "NASA explores for answers that power our future" and the graphic element "Inspiration + Innovation + Discovery = Future."

According to the memo: "These messages have been market tested and have proven to resonate best with the general public."

Dubious grammar, capitalization, and arithmetic aside, these things seem to have had all the meaning, all the passion, scrubbed out of them. They reek of boardroom. Is this really all the inspiration the NASA Communications leadership can muster?

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