Friday, August 12, 2005

MRO - Now en route to Mars

NASA successfully launched the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter this morning and confirmed spacecraft separation at 8:43 AM EDT. Detailed information on the MRO project may be found at NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter website.

While the manned space program has struggled in recent years, NASA is experiencing a great deal of success with deep space exploration using unmanned probes. Recent missions to comets, asteroids and Mars have all performed well beyond the expectations of even the most optimistic mission planners.

Where NASA falls short is in the public relations aspect of these groundbreaking missions. The public was enthralled with live coverage of Pathfinder's landing and photographing of the Martian landscape. Unfortunately, NASA failed to capitalize on the public interest in planetary exploration when it came to reporting Spirit and Opportunity successes, Deep Impact, and other deep space exploration projects. The robotic missions are a great success story. NASA must do a better public relations job. Public interest translates directly into congressional funding. Public response to the live coverage of Pathfinder is proof positive that the interest is there. NASA needs to do a better job of cashing in on that interest.


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