Space Politics

There are many space related lobby groups active in the world today, and all have the ultimate aim of influencing Governments to change, adapt, enact, or otherwise accommodate either their own ideas of what a space policy should encompass, or to change existing space policies to reflect their own agendas.

To date however, no lobby-, or special interest group(s) anywhere in the world has succeeded in persuading any Government to change any space policy in meaningful ways. Space exploration is a notoriously difficult commodity to sell, so instead of fruitlessly beating down Federal Government doors, most space advocacy groups are now focused on educational programs to bring the idea of space, space exploration, and the colonisation of space home to the general public.

Many space advocacy groups have now adopted the view that educated voters are more likely to accelerate official space programs and policies at the ballot box, than through any other means. Below is a growing section of a few prominent space advocacy lobby groups that are involved in bringing space to the voters, and customers in a big way.

Marketing The European Space Agency (ESA)

European Space Agency

In 2002, ESA appointed Ogilvy Brand Relations in Brussels to develop a brand awareness of, and create a demand for European products and systems that will be used on the International Space Station.

Marketing Spaceflight For Commercial Purposes

ESA Marketing

The ISS is without doubt the one of the most sophisticated and high tech laboratories even developed, and although it has yet to live up to its hype, the appointment of Ogilvy Brand Relations was explained thus by Mr Jörg Feustel-Büechl, ESA’s Director of Manned Spaceflight and Microgravity at the time-

“...In the past, human spaceflight has wrongly retained an exotic and elitist image. With the ISS, this is changing. Human spaceflight will become an everyday experience. The station offers companies and organisations the opportunity, for the first time, to exploit manned spaceflight for commercial purposes. By opening a unit exclusively devoted to marketing the station's facilities, ESA is leading the ISS commercialisation effort."

The success, or otherwise, of this campaign is hard to quantify, since the very narrowly focused target market was space industry leaders and decision makers. Almost no mention of the campaign exists outside of the aerospace industry, and even then details are sketchy, to say the least.

Learn More About. European Space Agency (ESA)

The British Interplanetary Society (BIS)

The British Interplanetary Society (BIS)

The BIS is the leading think tank and space oriented special interest group in the UK. It is also the oldest space oriented lobby group in the world, and since its founding in 1933, it has consistently campaigned for the advancement of space exploration and astronautics.

BIS’s Major Activities

The main thrust of the BIS’s activities revolve around “...initiating, promoting and disseminating new concepts and technical information about space flight and astronautics through meetings, symposia, publications, visits and exhibitions,” which it has been doing very well indeed. After the cessation of the Apollo program in the early 1970’s, the BIS took a leading role in exploring new thinking on the issues around a return to the Moon, and its possible eventual colonization. However, the BIS’s interest in the problems of, and requirements for interstellar space flight began in 1952, when the first advanced paper on the subject was published by the BIS.

In 1981, the BIS published the Daedalus Study,Daedalus Study by BISwhich was essentially a design for an interstellar space ship. The
Study was the foundation of many subsequent advanced papers on topics such as possible modes of communication with extraterrestrial intelligence's, and many related subjects and topics.

How NASA Sold Space To Earth

Nasa Selling Space

The main difference between the American and Russian space programs was that NASA decided to follow an “open program” in which information on all aspects of the program would be freely available to the public.

Moreover, it was decided at the time that NASA, and not the military establishment would control the flow of information, but additionally, that all relevant information would be disseminated before each mission, and not like the Russian program, via a short press release after the event.

In terms of the mechanics of the marketing campaign, NASA’s Public Affairs Office decided not to interfere in the message conveyed, but that it would only control the rate at which information was released. Moreover, since the Public Affairs Office was not staffed by newsmen, NASA appointed ex-newsmen to do the actual reporting.

Newsmen and Media Flow of Information

This was a revolutionary step, since no other government agency had ever used the principle that Nasa selling space to earth “Newsmen know what other newsmen want and need,” in the sense that newsmen knew better than anyone else which stories in which language, and in which media would have the biggest impact.

To further support the campaign, NASA provided everything their reporters required- from by-lined articles, television and film newsreels, background material in the form of technical information, drawings, diagrams, and even sponsored media symposiums and conferences. NASA also sponsored and produced several radio broadcasts that included interviews and sound effects.

The result was spectacular. The continuous flow of accurate, and unbiased information had the effect of keeping the Apollo missions firmly lodged in the collective American mind, but not only that, all information was available to whoever wanted, or needed it anywhere in the world. Even the many failures and disasters were fully reported on, and rarely in the history of marketing was a campaign as successful as the Apollo campaign.

Space Program Advertising Success

Not even the cynical comments made at the time that it was better to advertise the space program than to reveal its true cost to the American tax payer, had any negative impact on the success of the campaign. Unfortunately, the same tactics were not employed for the Space Shuttle Program, which is perhaps just as well, since the Challenger disaster almost completely destroyed public confidence in the Space program.

Learn more about NASA Space Programme by Michelle Legro on brain Pickings

The Planetary Society - NASA Lobbying

The planetary society

This group is actively lobbying for Congressional support aimed at restoring NASA’s Planetary Science Division’s budget to its historical average of $1.5 billion per year. Repeated budget cuts has slashed the Division’s budget to a mere $1.28 billion per year, which the Planetary Society says has crippled one of the most effective divisions within NASA.

The Planetary Society's Opinion

The planetary society's budgetThe Planetary Society holds the opinion that $1.5 billion per year is the absolute minimum amount required to balance the Division’s activities, which include small, medium, and large missions, scientific research, and the development of new technologies.

According to the Planetary Society, NASA is not spending enough on small missions and scientific research, and almost nothing on research on new technologies.

Putting the amount of $1.5 billion into perspective, The Planetary Society says that it represents less than 9% of NASA’s total expenditure, and substantially less than the amount American pet owners spent on toys for their dogs during 2012.