Last week’s discovery of seven earth-like planets outside of our solar system has astronauts and non-astronauts alike freaking out over the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe. The news was yet another media success for NASA who, in recent years, has revitalized and modernized its marketing and space propaganda machine with campaigns like the Mars Curiosity Rover Twitter account and astronaut Scott Kelly’s #YearInSpace.
But, it’s not as if NASA needs any help in the public opinion department.
According to NASA, it is more popular and more productive than ever before. In 2016, they had a record 18,300 applications to join this year’s astronaut class. Also, there is currently more human spacecraft in production in the United States than any other time in history.
According to Hollywood, further space exploration and discovery of alien life is in NASA’s near future. Movies like Arrival, Gravity, Hidden Figures, Interstellar, the Martian and others feature American astronauts and American space programs. The main character of Disney’s Tomorrowland spent her free time saving NASA rocket launch pads from condemnation while rocking a NASA hat for the entirety of the movie. I believe the same hat can be purchased at Target. NASA is everywhere.
In its prime, NASA propaganda was about beating the Soviets in the space race. Now, it seems dedicated to sending astronauts deep into space. Private investors like Elon Musk are planning to send tourists into space, hoping to get people more excited about deep space exploration again.
Despite statements of support for space exploration from both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, NASA’s Mars budget has been reduced significantly in the 21st century in favor of increased climate and outreach programs. NASA now relies heavily on private support from companies like SpaceX and United Launch Alliance in their attempts to send humans to Mars and beyond.
Last year, NASA released eight retro-propaganda style posters encouraging college graduates to apply for future jobs on Mars. A manned/womaned mission to Mars is estimated to be just a couple decades away. However, travel to the seven aforementioned earth-like planets is not likely any time soon barring radical technological advances from Musk and/or Matthew McConaughey.
If we do find a way to travel to the new planets, I recommend we send earth’s most noble representative, Donald J. Trump.