How are aerospace ventures getting the public engaged in their projects and why is it so important that such support and interest is maintained?

This past Monday, Colorado’s Capital celebrated Aerospace Day with all things space exploration, planetary science, astronomy and rocket building. The day created a great opportunity for the public to learn more about our national and global efforts to expand horizons and understand the universe. Beyond that, the event allowed legislators to learn more about local aerospace and technology efforts, as Colorado Space Business Roundtable board member Joe Rice explained in The Denver Post.  Since nearly 170, 000 Colorandans are employed by the aerospace industry, Aerospace Day and the experience it brings may be an important an investment in the state’s prosperity–beyond just one day.

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Getting The Public Involved
This raises the question, can simply showing people, in person, how far we’ve come in aerospace developments—and showing how it can matter to them—help the sector prosper? If the public feels involved, are they more likely to extend their support and feel part of aerospace’s future? That may be the driving force behind a new campaign by the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, in which the public can now vote for the name of a new rocket.


A New Name For Major Development
Eagle, Freedom, and GalaxyOne are the three options chosen from the more that 400 names that were originally submitted by ULA employees and space enthusiasts. Now the public has their opportunity to narrow it down online or via text message. The winning result will be announced April 13th. The design and components of the new ULA rocket will also be unveiled at that time.

Launching Our Future
ULA announced earlier this week “…the new rocket that will be responsible for the majority of the nation’s future space launches.” That’s a pretty significant project for the public to play a role in, and that may be a big motivation behind the campaign. For the same reason that many of us follow politics primarily around election times, allowing the public to have a say in the future of space exploration, albeit just a rocket’s title, may encourage them to support it and take a sincere interest in where we’re going.

Atlas V Rocket

Keeping With The Spirit Of NASA’s Golden Age?
As many of our space exploration and travel endeavors have now been privatized, it may be too easy for its future to lean towards profit over progress, but many of the big companies and big names behind privatized aerospace developments seem to have the enterprising spirit of NASA’s golden age in mind. As ULA’s president and CEO said in a released statement, “More possibilities in space means more possibilities here on earth. This is such a critical time for space travel and exploration and we’re excited to bring all of America with us on this journey into the future.” Pending voter participation over the next two weeks, we’ll see how much of America is just as excited to be along for the ride.

Do you think this is a smart way to engage the public in the future of aerospace development? Could greater public support help significantly advance our technology, even if it’s gone from public to private hands?

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