Back in the summer, the National Academies’ Committee on Human Spaceflight issued a call for white papers, soliciting opinions on the future of human spaceflight in the US, including the implications to the country if NASA ended its human spaceflight program. In last week’s issue of The Space Review, I examined some of the nearly 200 papers they received in response. The submissions featured a mix of papers by companies and organizations as well as from the public, with some familiar themes of general support of government human spaceflight, a goal of humans to Mars, and concerns about competition from China.
For those who might have thought a four-page paper to be a bit much (although some submissions weighed in at under a page), the committee is offering an alternative. Starting at 12:01 am Tuesday morning Eastern time, and continuing for 27 hours (through midnight Pacific time Tuesday night), the committee will be collecting inputs via Twitter. “What are your best ideas for creating a NASA human spaceflight program that is sustainable over the next several decades?” the committee is asking for responses on, requesting people use the hashtag #HumansinSpace. Those ideas will have to fit into just 126 characters or less: besides Twitter’s 140-character limit, the required hashtag itself takes up 14 characters.
As with the white papers, the committee notes the tweets will not be used as some kind of opinion poll because of the self-selected nature of the inputs. “However, the input is intended to help ensure that the committee hears about important issues from interested parties,” the committee states on the website about the Twitter initiative. So long as you can get those issues squeezed down to 126 characters or less.