The men who ran the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs were men of legend. Tough, chance taking heroes who would bet their lives on their skills rather than "err on the side of caution". They were "we're doing this today, so I'm going to piss in my spacesuit rather than scrub the mission" kinda guys.
I was struck by the stark contrast to the present day representatives of our quest for space on Friday night. As we watched the Kepler launch on NASA TV, the whole time "White and Nerdy" by Weird Al Yankovic ran circles my head. I'm sure that the people covering the launch are really smart, and probably all have Ph D's galore, but somehow they made something extremely cool downright boring.
I want to love it. I want this to be something I watch during prime time instead of 24 or Mythbusters. There should be launching parties going on across the US like we have Super Bowl parties. They need a Veronica Belmont or Patrick Norton or Molly Wood to go down there and spice things up. Maybe that girl who did the Large Hadron Collider Rap Youtube video is available.
To be fair, I don't think most people over at NASA are content with our current situation. There are certainly cowboys all over that place, but I don't hear any of those people saying anything. I watched a special on the Science Channel that same evening and I swear they found the LEAST socially aware people from NASA to be on the show.
I like nerdy people. Really I do, but I'm not sure we're inspiring 10 year old boys to become astronauts by projecting the image of science and space that we currently are projecting.
They are launching the Shuttle Discovery tomorrow. If they want to get people to watch, to be interested, this is what they have to do:
There are scores of enthusiasts who trekked down to Florida to watch this launch. During the boring parts of the countdown (there are a lot of them) have someone young and vibrant take a handheld HD camera down to this crowd and hang out with them. Get their stories. They are huge fans and so excited that they showed up just to watch. Find the adventure seekers and chicks in bikinis. Talk to *them*.
You could call the segment “The spaceflight fan special” or “Girls with boobs like spaceships too”.