Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Pentagon, NASA & DARPA All Go to Comic-Con

          By Chuck Black

It's well known that the US military employs a cadre of "entertainment liaison officers" to glad-hand Hollywood executives and help decide which projects get Pentagon support, expertise, equipment, location permits and sometimes even funding.

Actor, producer and space enthusiast Seth Green moderates a Comicon 2014 panel discussion with Dr. Jim Green (NASA's division director of Planetary Science), Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, current NASA astronaut Mike Fincke and "Mohawk Guy" Bobak Ferdowsi, a NASA-JPL Engineer involved with the Curiosity and Europa Missions. Screenshot c/o NASA JPL.

It's less well known that NASA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and quite a few other organizations, often connect entertainment industry professionals with top scientists, engineers, military expertise and even funding in order to create a synergy between science and story lines.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's a promotional tool which Canadian space scientists and entrepreneurs might consider copying.

The NAS even has a Science and Entertainment Exchange, which recently celebrated its "1000th consult," on films such as "Big Hero 6, The Amazing Spiderman, The Avengers, Battleship, Iron Man 2, Prometheus, Thor, and Tron: Legacy, as well as hit television programs like Castle, Covert Affairs, Criminal Minds, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Fringe, The Good Wife, and House."

As outlined in the January 7th, 2015 post on the Spy Culture website under the title, "The Pentagon, NASA and Comic-Con," NASA has recently begun to attend events like the San Diego Comic-Con.

According to the article, the "combination of nerds and sci-fi fanatics has proven too alluring to ignore and so one of the world’s biggest scientific institutions has joined the world’s largest military organisation in exploiting this opportunity."

Of course, while NASA is a latecomer to comics culture, the organization has been involved in other aspects of the media almost since its inception.

Chuck Black.
For a list of some of the programs NASA has been involved with recently, check out the December 17th, 2015 post on the Spy Culture website under the title, "NASA Public Affairs/Media Liaison Documents."

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

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