Author Topic: What can we do to get young people more supportive of space exploration?  (Read 15167 times)

Offline CmdrShepN7

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I find it sad that many young people are indifferent, ignorant, or even opposed to space exploration.

What about the satellites that give us GPS and radio? What about the medical tech that came from NASA?

How could a person be that ignorant?

Couldn't something like the Jim Webb Space Telescope and the discovery of life in the underwater ocean of Jupiter's Moon Europa reduce the amount of religious fundamentalism in the world? If so progressives should support that.

Why is it so easy to pick on NASA? Why aren't these people calling for large portions of the military budget and higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for social programs and fighting climate change?

Couldn't space exploration be used to inspire a new generation to get interested in science and technology? That would be useful in the fight against climate change.

Couldn't astronauts inspire people to push themselves both physically and mentally? I know I have.


I used to be interested in space and science back in 2014 but sadly by 2016 I lost interest. Thanks to the quarantine I check out this alternate history soap opera on Apple TV and it reignites my interest in spaceflight and space exploration.


I then check out other astronaut shows like Disney+'s "The Right Stuff" and Netflix's "Away". Apple's "For All Mankind" was better than both of them. I also devour anything astronaut themed I could find. I enjoyed "The Martian", "Interstellar", and even "Gravity". I loved historical space exploration themed movies like "The Right Stuff", "Apollo 13", "Hidden Figures", and "First Man". I even check out a Russian movie called "Salyut-7" and a Japanese anime called "Planetes". I also loved documentaries like "Challenger Final Flight" and "When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions". HBO's "From the Earth to the Moon" and "Planetes" were some of the most optimistic TV I watched last year.

« Last Edit: 07/12/2023 02:45 am by CmdrShepN7 »

Offline leovinus

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It is a valid question. In a broader context I would change it to "how to make people/children interested in tomorrow instead of living the immediate gratification life just in the today?".

While I have no great answer, my simple thinking would be two-fold. Basically, less CableTV and less Fa[ck]ebook time and more books to read which encourages concentration, dreams and time commitment to reach the end. With endings that inspire and lead to a realization "Wow, I never though about that!" and many questions to their peers and parents. From Jules Verne "to the moon" to, I don't know, "Harry Potter" or even "Moving Mars". 

For the older ones, plenty of reading material in the Hard science fiction books thread.

Good luck.

Offline Endeavour_01

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Couple of quick thoughts from a 30 year old.

1. Inform them. One of my favorite verses from the Bible is Hosea 4:6a, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." It points out how harmful a lack of knowledge and understanding can be to a society.

It is easy to think that space spending is wasteful when you have no idea how space exploration has benefited humanity. As space advocates we need to do a better job of educating people on the tangible benefits of spaceflight (some of which you pointed out above).

2. Excite them. The accomplishments of SpaceX and NASA in recent years (particularly F9 reusablility, Falcon Heavy, Crew Dragon, Perseverance/Ingenuity, etc.) have caused an explosion of excitement among non-space people.
I cheer for both NASA and commercial space. For SLS, Orion, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Dragon, Starship/SH, Starliner, Cygnus and all the rest!
I was blessed to see the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-99. The launch was beyond amazing. My 8-year old mind was blown. I remember the noise and seeing the exhaust pour out of the shuttle as it lifted off. I remember staring and watching it soar while it was visible in the clear blue sky. It was one of the greatest moments of my life and I will never forget it.

Offline Amos

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Simple - go put telescopes on sidewalks and show space to them.

Offline Jim

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Simple - go put telescopes on sidewalks and show space to them.

Telescopes didnít do it for me

Offline JonahH

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As a young individual myself (under 18), I thought I should make a comment or two on this thread.

For many of the individuals on this forum, it's hard to imagine our lives without space exploration in one way or another. Nonetheless, we have to remember we represent a minute fraction of the general population. I was recently baffled when I tried to make conversation with my peers about Inspiration 4, and the seismic shift this flight could have for the industry all together. None of them are deeply into aerospace; they won't be tuning in to watch stacking operations and cryo proofs, nor will they be trying to learn about combustion instability problems on Apollo. But given that I4 was supposed to be one of the most publicized launches of the decade, I thought people would have at least heard of it in passing.

Put shortly, I kept on getting blank stares. The only comment I got back from someone was about Starship, to which they thought "isn't that the rocket Jeff Bezos is building"? Not even my AP Physics C teacher (that's the most advanced physics class offered by the college board for high school students) or a teacher with an aerospace degree were aware.

So what do we do? A recent strategy of mine has been to help inspire and educate. I've made a school club to converse about aerospace in the backdrop of an engineering project to use a modified satellite dish measure the rotation rate of the galaxy.

For others, we could try to ease them in with media. Perhaps not the daily videos of Boca Chica at first (new people often glance out the window because of all the construction noises if you can believe it). But give them some hard sci-fi, maybe shows mentioned by CmdrShepN7, or even engineering-enthused kids Eric Burger's "Liftoff".

Also, more grandeous explanations seem to work. I once had to give a presentation in a business course about a struggle within a unique industry, and gave the tale of how SpaceX heraleded in an age of "New Space" with a focus on delivering cheaper, faster, and more robust hardware against all odds. That seemed to make a lot of kids interested, as well as the teacher.

There's a lot of exciting sectors of spaceflight, but for now, people don't stop to think. I'd love to hear if anyone else has more ideas, since our current high schoolers might very well end up being the minds that help us to land humans on Mars (given that nearly every engineer at SpaceX is 27). I'm also happy to answer any questions.

Offline Amos

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Simple - go put telescopes on sidewalks and show space to them.

Telescopes didnít do it for me

As a long-time lurker I've come to seriously respect your expertise, Jim - Can I ask what did do it for you?

I ask because I've spent a lot of time doing hands-on interpretive programs with telescopes, and never really had a participant who wasn't "into it".

Offline Jim

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Simple - go put telescopes on sidewalks and show space to them.

Telescopes didnít do it for me

As a long-time lurker I've come to seriously respect your expertise, Jim - Can I ask what did do it for you?

I ask because I've spent a lot of time doing hands-on interpretive programs with telescopes, and never really had a participant who wasn't "into it".

Televised space missions in the 60ís

Offline FishInferno

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I'm going to on a little target about my thoughts on this, as a "young person" (21) studying computer science:

The Apollo program captivated the world (and young people with it) because it was inherently exciting. Going to the Moon was new and groundbreaking, and most people who would otherwise be indifferent or skeptical were too awestruck to think about it. But under the reign of the Shuttle and ISS, we haven't been doing anything new. Yes, technically Hubble and the various experiments on the ISS have done new things, but the fact remains that humans have not gone below LEO since 1972.

Thus, the general public doesn't see modern human spaceflight as actually doing much of anything. And to their credit, it really doesn't. Therein exists a catch-22 situation, where in order for the public to be inspired, progress has to be made. This is already apparent with SpaceX. SpaceX's first successful landings of F9 seemed to make more headlines than Demo-2, because reusable rockets are new but sending people to LEO isn't. SpaceX in general seems to have permeated pop culture far more than the Artemis program, and SpaceX barely advertises while NASA puts out endless PR content.

So basically, if you want people excited about spaceflight, spaceflight has to be exciting. The initial Mars missions will undoubtedly have their detractors. But most people will be too busy tilting their heads up at the night sky, searching for Mars so they can wave hello.
Comparing SpaceX and SLS is like comparing paying people to plant fruit trees with merely digging holes and filling them.  - Robotbeat

Offline Coastal Ron

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When I was in high school I was aware that "stuff" was made in factories, but I had no idea what type of jobs were in factories besides iron workers and assemblers. I stumbled into manufacturing operations by answering an ad in the local paper for a "Management Intern", that happened to be at a local manufacturing company. And I LOVED my job.

My point is that despite this thing called "the internet", young people today still have a limited view into all the different areas of interest there are, whether for a vocation (what you get paid to do) or an avocation (something you do for fun outside of work). And that won't change, because life is FILLED with a vast range of things to do for vocations and avocations.

For me "space" is an avocation, and I actually have a number of avocations.

My daughters generation surprised me by being very focused on getting an education in something challenging. But thought my daughter actually works in a job that is tech heavy, she doesn't have an interest in space. Why?

Partly that is because young people today are growing up with a better sense of the world around them. The can see in real time what is happening around the work, and for some of them they are truly focused on solving the problems here on Earth. And sure, some of the technology we need to solve problems here on Earth is space-based, but just because someone supports the use of oceanographic buoys for collecting information about the ocean, that doesn't mean they want to live on/in the ocean.

So the best way to get young people interested in space is to keep doing what we've been doing. Because I think it is random who will be interested and/or passionate in space. And what we really need young people to do is get an education in the fields that we need in order to expand humanity out into space. And luckily the degrees we need are useful for non-space use too, so there is little risk in people getting them.

Not sure I've said anything new, but my $0.02
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Asteroza

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Simple - go put telescopes on sidewalks and show space to them.

Telescopes didnít do it for me

As a long-time lurker I've come to seriously respect your expertise, Jim - Can I ask what did do it for you?

I ask because I've spent a lot of time doing hands-on interpretive programs with telescopes, and never really had a participant who wasn't "into it".

Televised space missions in the 60ís

Now I am REALLY curious, is there a specific mission or aspect from that period that hooked you? There was a lot of "beating the russians" as well as a genuine american hero aspects from that time. Or was it more Buck Rogers scifi starting to come real?

Offline Lee Jay

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I'll tell you what killed it for me - the gap between Apollo and Shuttle. Despite an intense interest, I went into another industry for that reason. And the gap we're in right now (post Shuttle) happened at the same time in my kids' lives.  And, no, commercial crew cycling to the ISS doesn't count. It's just a taxi service and just as exciting.

So, have exciting things going on that involve people in space. Get rid of the damned gaps!

Offline MATTBLAK

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One way you can increase interest in space as a natural progression; try find a way to stamp out the constant, 24/7 barrage of conspiracy theories, flat earthers and 'space isn't even real' imbeciles who pollute social media, comments sections on news and science websites, YouTube etc. Their barrage is determined and relentless and they *ARE* getting converts and winning hearts and minds, every day. There are not many people actually doing it; but they are doing it for free, with an almost religious zeal. No amount of education and public affairs budget can ever hope to compete with those who are doing it free of charge. And the tack of anti-space people has changed recently: they are now using the tactic of "Billionaires and Space Billionaires are Evil and they're wasting money and taking food from the mouths of those in poverty". And "All those rocket launches are ruining the environment!!"

Those are direct quotes, said to me in recent weeks - to my face. And the internet is full of similar sentiment. I am not exaggerating, even one iota. The anti-intellectual and anti-science & engineering movement is a gathering storm. They came after and undermined medical science and vaccinations; now they are coming after Space as well.

Don't believe me? Think I'm exaggerating? I wasn't exaggerating when I warned Apollo 11 celebrations in 2019 would come under Troll and Hacker attacks - they did. Bezos and Branson in space came under almost universal condemnation. Just watch the escalation of this when Starship and SLS fly in space.

Think I'm exaggerating? You just watch... :'( :( >:(
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Offline Welsh Dragon

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It's because they have far more important things to worry about, like their insecure employment and housing situations, or the fact so many of them are being discriminated against, or the fact they're inheriting a screwed up climate. Young people are getting screwed over by the previous generations at every angle, space hardly matters then. Priorities, people.

Offline MATTBLAK

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I agree strongly with you, in part - though that of course was not the subject of my post above. The kids of today are inheriting an environmental, ideological and economic mess, true. And whether they realize it or not; they have been allowed to be distracted by trivialities like 'celebrities', games, social media, popular trends etc. To an extent; the Western World has always been like that, but Corporations (I'll let the reader choose their own whipping boi) have weaponized distractions and manipulations. I'm 55; when I was a teen, I'm sure I wasn't much different, though I believe I was. I avoided most peer pressures.
"Those who can't, Blog".   'Space Cadets' of the World - Let us UNITE!! (crickets chirping)

Offline Pitpen

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Boots on the moon would be an immense boost to the space popularity.
And starting from that you need to build up progressively higher challanges such as placing a sort of permanent lab on the moon and then move on to the next target (farther outposts). As of today space activities are stuck with scientific researches on ISS that of course is useful but cannot be interesting for the masses.
Anyway the future of space will be commercial or no future at all


Offline MATTBLAK

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Yes; boots on the Moon with 4K TV coverage. Maybe even 3D or virtual reality participation as well! I truly hope Yusaku Maezawa and the dearMoon project gets to happen. That should stir up some interest.
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Offline high road

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I'll tell you what killed it for me - the gap between Apollo and Shuttle. Despite an intense interest, I went into another industry for that reason. And the gap we're in right now (post Shuttle) happened at the same time in my kids' lives.  And, no, commercial crew cycling to the ISS doesn't count. It's just a taxi service and just as exciting.

So, have exciting things going on that involve people in space. Get rid of the damned gaps!

What gap are we still in then? Either the return of the taxi service counts as the end of the gap, or Space Shuttle was part of the gap.

We're in a boom in space startups that has been building up for years now.

Offline Lee Jay

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I'll tell you what killed it for me - the gap between Apollo and Shuttle. Despite an intense interest, I went into another industry for that reason. And the gap we're in right now (post Shuttle) happened at the same time in my kids' lives.  And, no, commercial crew cycling to the ISS doesn't count. It's just a taxi service and just as exciting.

So, have exciting things going on that involve people in space. Get rid of the damned gaps!

What gap are we still in then? Either the return of the taxi service counts as the end of the gap, or Space Shuttle was part of the gap.

We're in a boom in space startups that has been building up for years now.

The Space Shuttle flights often involved a high-density of EVAs performed by the Shuttle astronauts, the delivery of hardware beyond just people, or at least the delivery and berthing of an MPLM, followed by a Shuttle landing at KSC.  A Dragon launch with cargo or 4 long-term ISS crew members followed by an ocean splashdown is like watching paint dry by comparison.

For me, space as it is right now is as boring as it has been during my lifetime.

Offline high road

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Simple - go put telescopes on sidewalks and show space to them.

Telescopes didnít do it for me

Agree. Not just because there's not much to see from a country which outline is visible from space at night, even though it's in the middle of an already well lit continent, but what you do see is always such a massive disappointment to the stuff professionals can do. Especially with VR technology, looking at (well, standing in) detailed images and being able to get instant information about it is great. Much better than fiddling with a telescope until you see something marginally better.

But that won't convince people that aren't already interested. In my experience, people of all ages are equally disinterested in space as they are in all other subjects of which the effects on their life are not immediately clear. Whether it's global politics, the environment, science, but any other subject as well. The best way to make it interesting in my experience is with anecdotes they can relate to. Actual examples: anyone with fond of the camera in their cellphone or laptop can thank astronomy for the development of the digital camera decades before such a thing had a commercial use. My aunt works in government and was bored at the mere mention of space but listened with rapt attention as I explained (with a bias for a juicier story) how the military influenced the design of space shuttle, because bickering government orgisations is what she knows. Kids especially like to fantasize about space and alien worlds, so they are the easiest ones to reach out to. The hardest part is to guesstimate people's existing knowledge and interests to connect to.

 

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