Are you go for Mars?

That’s the question asked this week by the Coalition for Space Exploration, which has been running ads on SPACE.com that link to this form. It asks readers to “register your support for the nation’s Vision for Space Exploration” by filing out the contact information (name, postal address, email address) that will be apparently forwarded to “our Nation’s Leaders” (presumably the President and members of Congress, although that’s not specified.)

The petition itself seems innocuous enough, although I am mildly concerned by the fact that it’s hosted on the SPACE.com web site. Because SPACE.com is generally associated with space news, hosting this petition might raise some concerns regarding how biased the site, and its coverage, might be in favor of the plan. To be fair, the SPACE.com logo does not appear on the page (instead it uses the logo of its parent company, Space Holdings), and there’s more to SPACE.com than news. I’d also be surprised if the editorial staff of SPACE.com or Space News was swayed one way or another in their reporting based on this, or their parent company’s membership in the coalition. Still, it would seem odd if you saw something like this on the web site of another publication that covers space news, like Florida Today or the Houston Chronicle.

9 comments to Are you go for Mars?

  • Anonymous

    One solution – – have the sponsor seek link placement as far and wide as possible. AOL, Yahoo, google, spacepolitics.com?

    You know, the biggies. . .

  • We all have our potential sources of bias, Jeff. Last time I chekced, you worked for Futron, a NASA contractor which specializes in commercial market forecasts, and administer your websites during the day , as you once told me, with their blessing. Were I to spend some time combing though your site, and suspected you of something less than honest (which, of course I don’t) then I could probaby raise some similar issues with you.

  • Dwayne A. Day

    These kinds of surveys are not at all scientific. They are self-selected and therefore have limited credibility to begin with. I doubt that the site that hosts it really matters–everyone knows that there is no attempt to be objective or neutral with these kinds of things.

  • Bill White

    I favor spreading the poll as far and wide as possible, not to measure public opinion, but to create the expectation that the current vision is to actually get humans to Mars within a reasonable period of time.

  • Just spoke with the Space Foundation about their plans to make the poll available on other non-space.com pages. They have a partnership in place between space foundation and space.com – as such this poll will only appear on a space.com page. I think it is unlikely that space.com’s commercial competitors are going to send them a lot of non-reciprocal traffic.

    Dwayne is right about the self-selection that the visitors make by visiting the site – and th objectivity of such a ‘poll’ – except, I am told, the new crop of radio ads the coalition will soon run that will tell people to visit space.com to express their opinions about space. We’ll see if that shifts the responder demographic out of a “already a space believer” cohort into “space newbie” territory.

  • Wanted to chime in here to let you know that this is definitely not a poll. We’re not asking a question, we’re asking those who support the Vision for Space Exploration to let us know who they are. It’s more fair to call this a petition because we’ll collate the information and let our nation’s leaders know there are a bunch of people outside the beltway who support the vision

    Space Holdings is providing a mechanism for us to do that under a paid advertising deal.

    SPACE.com’s commercial competitors can decide for themselves whether or not they want to help publicize an effort to excite and educate people about the re-focused vision.

    I hope everyone will add their names to the effort.

    On a purely logistical note, I’ve still got to tweak some wording a bit on that page during the next few days and if anyone has some suggestions to make this page more user friendly and understandable I certainly welcome your input.

    Jim Banke
    Space Foundation

  • Jeff Foust


    You’re quite right that we all have our biases. The question I raised is that, if one saw this on the site of a newspaper that covered, in part, space issues—like the Huntsville Times or Orlando Sentinel—it would raise questions regarding whether such a publication should branch out into advocacy. (Let’s be clear: this is not a poll but a petition.) Should an online publication like SPACE.com that focuses exclusively on space issues be treated differently? Maybe, maybe not. It’s a minor point, but one I thought worth raising. The consensus seems to be it’s a non-issue, so having completed converting this molehill into a mountain, I’ll leave it at that.

    Well, one more point: the coalition could have killed two issues (any perceived conflicts of interest with SPACE.com, and problems getting traffic from other commercial space-oriented web sites) with one stone: last I checked the domain name areyougoformars.com hasn’t been registered. It probably doesn’t sound as good as SPACE.com on the radio, though.

  • Bill

    In this celebrity-driven world, it would be great to have a list of famous people who support the Moon/Mars plan.

    Science fiction authors, eg. Arthur C. Clarke
    Authors, eg. Tom Clancy, Michael Crichton
    Hollywood stars, eg. Tom Hanks
    Nobel Prize winners
    Pulitzer Prize winners
    Astronauts, eg. Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell
    Politicians, from both left and right
    Columnists/Commentators, from both left and right

    Check out the X PRIZE website to see a good example:

  • Bill

    For the famous people’s list, add:

    Business executives, eg. Paul Allen, Jeff Bezos, John Carmack, Elon Musk
    Scientists, eg. Freeman Dyson, Paul Davies
    Journalists, eg. William E. Burrows