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Member of the Week: NASA’s Beth Beck

NASA space suit that vistors can get into! That Rocks! Take My Picture!

1. How did you get involved with NASA.

After grad school, I was selected as a Presidential Management Intern (Fellow, now). NASA made me an offer I couldn’t refuse – an opportunity to work on the International Space Station that President Reagan had just recently announced NASA would build. I started at the Johnson Space Center and moved to Headquarters in Washington DC five years later to work on President H.W. Bush’s first Exploration program to go back to the Moon and Mars.

2. How has your role as Space Operations Outreach Manager changed the way individuals view space exploration? (especially the youth)

I can’t measure if I’ve changed the way others view space – other than anecdotally. What I can offer is that I’ve influenced how NASA engages with the public. I like to provide ways for those “outside the perimeter” to have a chance to be part of what we do. When I came to this job, we relied on models and things to show the public what we do.

I’ve worked over the last five years to develop experience-based engagements to let individuals “touch” space.
• Flown Shuttle tires – we snagged some tires off the Orbiters that were being sold as excess, painted them white, and take them out to exhibits and events to let people doodle on them and leave messages. How often do you get to touch something that’s actually been to space and back, and leave your mark on it?

• Galactic Explorer Module – we created a green-screen kiosk that gives users an opportunity to select from six space destinations, record a video, and email the video to themselves or friends. They walk away with a photo, as well. They get to go to space and back in less than 30 seconds, and offer proof of their journey.
• SpaceSmart – we’re working on a kiosk-based experience where we can measure (finally) what individuals think of space before their experience, let them learn about space through game-based modules, then measure if we’ve moved the needle. We hope to debut SpaceSmart this spring. Stay tuned.

We’ve added social media presence in most everything we do, in order to engage the tech-savvy youth. Facebook, twitter, youTube, Flikr, etc. You can find all the NASA accounts on http://www.nasa.gov/collaborate.

3. How did NASA change your perspective about the world. More importantly,the universal web of existence and are place in it as human-beings?

Wow. This is a huge question. Here’s a simple answer:

NASA (and the space community) offers a point-of-view found nowhere else.
1. Eyes on our home planet from off the planet (humans, satellites and scientific instruments).
2. Eyes on the universe through the our robotic and human missions.
3. Human experience outside the boundaries of Earth’s gravity and atmosphere.

How can we NOT see the world differently now that we’ve left the planet? And we have so much more to learn. We’ve only just begun.

4. What does the future hold for NASA now that the Shuttle Program has ended?

We fly out our last four missions this year, if our schedule holds. How this changes our future? We will rely on others to provide transportation of humans to Space Station and beyond low Earth orbit. Think flying the plane you built vs. taking a commercial plane. Nothing else really changes for us.

5. Will the commercial sectors involvement in space travel increase? and if so, what are the drawbacks of this in reference to space travel ? Are there securtity risks?

We hope commercial providers will rush into the market place to provide safe, affordable transportation. We’ll rely on the Russians for transport to Space Station on the Soyuz, until other providers come available.

Your question about drawbacks or security risks is not one I can comment on. Not my area of expertise. But I do know this, we’re NASA. We’ll make work whatever we’re given.

6. You stated in your blog, (http://bethbeck.wordpress.com/ ) “to keep the Shuttle program going means money spent on upgrades and refurbished parts. To go beyond Low Earth Orbit, humanity needs a different ride”.

With out giving too much away, can you tell us what new ride/toys NASA is working on?

The President has shifted our focus from building our own transportation to developing advanced technology. I have no idea what direction this will take. Right now, we have folks figuring this out – and I’m not one of them. I work in the Space Operations Office, which manages the human spaceflight program we operate today – Shuttle, Station, etc.

7. What’s the most exciting aspect of your job?

Getting to be part of this cool thing we call space. And, having the opportunity to share it with others. How amazing is that?!

8. Has Social Media changed NASA’s communication techniques in reference to their audience? How aboutinternally?

Social media changed everything. We’re in the Wild Wild West where we no longer filter all communications through one of sieve – Public Affairs. We struggle with how much communication is good communication, and how to let go of control. Social media is here to stay. The government is scrambling with how to manage the flow.

Internally? Some get it (social media). Some don’t. Those who get it, love it. Those who don’t, hate it. And, let’s face it. Social media tools are changing lightning speed. It’s really hard to keep up with what’s the latest and greatest…before the next latest and greatest comes around.

I look at it this way: those who jealously control the flow of information, don’t always give it away without a bloody fight.

Personally, I love social media. I think tools like Twitter or Facebook, for instance, give “outsiders” ccess to inside information without going through several locked gates. If we trust people to do their jobs, we can trust them with sharing about what they do – within the understanding of how to use these new tools.

9. What are your favorite space related websites?

I’ll pick one (outside www.nasa.gov): www.facebook.com/nasa.gov

The GovLoop family salutes Beth Beck

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Anita Arile

I’m sharing this with my children and their friends! I love how most CONUS govt agencies are utilizing social media to connect with future leaders and public servants! KUDOS on a job well done too Beth!

Beth Beck

Andrea, Thanks, but you might not like the size of my cubicle…or the stacks of paper on my desk. Though, in zero-g my cube space would seem huge…. 😉

Radiah Givens-Nunez

No need to thank me Beth!! You are truly a space rock star!! What you do helps to change the way individuals view space. NASA helps inviduals like me to dream due to all of the beautiful things that you reveal about the universe. You show use the beauty, the stillness, and most importantly the possiblities of traveling to the far reaching depths of the universe. Their is a delicate balance of creation, and destruction out there that the world community would never experience if it weren’t for NASA.

When I was a little girl I used to dream about reaching the stars……To this day I still get excited when I watch the shuttle crew get ready for their long journey..I still count off when the control room counts off for take-off, and I still scream “go baby, go baby go” when I see that beautiful white bird pierce the clouds…so my dear the pleasure was all mine!! Indeed, Indeed