Vice President Mike Pence has made the official announcement that America is returning to the moon, both in the pages of the Wall Street Journal and at the first meeting of the National Space Council. Media response has been mostly positive or neutral, though a few naysayers have cropped up. However, as with any massive change in national space policy that will involve the expenditure of money, the return to the moon is going to require some selling. Here follows a couple of ideas.

The role of the president

President Donald Trump, unlike some of his predecessors, has declined to make the big speech, the traditional kickoff for a big space initiative.

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Fortunately, next year will provide some opportunities for the president to weigh in and to add a stamp of approval to the return to the moon project.

Trump will need to include the return to the moon as one of his priorities during his State of the Union address. President Reagan announced what eventually became the International Space Station in a State of the Union in 1984. The speech would automatically get a nationwide audience.

2018 is also an election year in which the president will be on the road supporting Republican candidates. Trump headlines campaign rallies have always been well attended and are frequently covered by the cable news channels. One of those rallies, say in Texas to support Sen. Ted Cruz for his reelection, would be an excellent opportunity for touting the return to the moon.

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If the campaign rally could be done at Rice Stadium, evoking John F. Kennedy, so much the better.

The role of NASA and its commercial partners

NASA’s ability to advertise its programs is somewhat restricted and is placed under the heading of “education.” Since the space agency is seeking business partners for the return to the moon program, such companies should be under no such constraint. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos especially have deep enough pockets to give the moon effort a full court press, with television advertising linked to social media. The commercial companies should provide media surrogates to go on TV and talk radio to sell the return to the moon and to engage anyone who opposes the effort.

The moon won’t sell itself

One of the mistakes made during the previous return to the moon efforts has been the notion that the moon will sell itself. If the Trump effort is to succeed, those who want to see #American #Moon Boots on the lunar soil need to disabuse themselves of this notion. The moon has to be sold by a systematic campaign that not only highlights the benefits of going back but also marginalizes the opposition to the effort.