Is NASA Boring? Not a Chance

Transformer-style planetary exploration vehicles being studied under a NIAC grant. (Scott Ferguson, North Carolina State University)

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

James Cameron’s recent solo voyage to the bottom of the sea — 7 miles down in the Pacific’s Mariana Trench — garnered universally rave reviews. Commentators praised director for his daring in going to a place where only two men had only gone before and opening up a new era of deep sea exploration.

There was one discordant note, aimed not at Cameron but rather — of all things — NASA. One blogger attacked the space agency’s Public Affairs Office for not sufficiently playing up the advisory role of one of its scientists in the expedition. “NASA is Becoming Boring” the headline thundered, indicting the coolest government agency in the world for some minor lapse involving an expedition it wasn’t even running.

What. Ever. Bro.

If only the critic had attended the NASA Innovative Advance Concepts Spring Symposium last week in Pasadena. During the 3-day gathering, researchers gave us a glimpse of the future. I didn’t find it boring. And neither did June Lockhart, for that matter. (Of which, more later.)