New NRC Panel on Public Opinion About Human Spaceflight to Meet April 5

New NRC Panel on Public Opinion About Human Spaceflight to Meet April 5

The National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Committee on Human Spaceflight and one of its two supporting panels have had several meetings already, but on Friday, April 5, the second supporting panel will meet for the first time.  This panel is focused on the topic of public and stakeholder opinions about human spaceflight.

One of the tasks of the NRC committee is to examine and articulate the “value proposition” of the human spaceflight program — essentially what do the taxpayers who pay for NASA’s human spaceflight activities get in return.   In fact, according to the drafters of the legislative language that led to the study, that is its primary purpose.   Ann Zulkosky and Jeff Bingham, on the Democratic and Republican staff, respectively, of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee, said in February that they, at least, are not looking for a new plan for the nation’s human spaceflight program, but an understanding of its value proposition.

About one-third of the members of the NRC committee have backgrounds in public opinion polling, sociology and related fields.   The NRC also created a specific panel with additional expertise to assist the committee, similar to the Technical Feasibility panel that held its second meeting last week.

This Public and Stakeholder Opinions panel is chaired by Roger Tourangeau of Westat, Inc., a survey firm.   Six of the other seven panel members are from universities.  The seventh — and likely the only familiar name in space policy circles — is space historian Roger Launius of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and former NASA chief historian.

The panel’s meeting on April 5 is closed except for one hour when NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Public Outreach, Alan Ladwig, will speak.   That will be from 9:15 – 10:15 am at the NRC’s Keck Center, 500 5th Street, N.W., Washington, DC.

The panel’s full roster is the following eight individuals.  Presser is also a member of the full committee.

  • Roger Tourangeau, Vice President and Associate Director, Westat, Inc. (chair)
  • Molly Andolina, Associate Professor of Political Science, DePaul University
  • Jennifer Hochschild, Henry LaBarre Hayne Professor of Government, Professor of African and African American Studies, and Harvard College Professor, Harvard University
  • James Jackson, Director and Research Professor of the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
  • Roger Launius, Senior Curator, Division of Space History, Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum
  • Jon Miller, Research Scientist and Director of the International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
  • Stanley Presser, Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland where he teaches in the Sociology Department and the Joint Program in Survey Methodology
  • Cliff Zukin, Professor of Public Policy and Political Science, Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Policy and the Eagleton Institute of Politics

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