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Forum:Space Shuttles - Space Station
Topic:STS-134: Mark Kelly will command Endeavour
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Rick MulheirnI have read reports this morning that Mark Kelly has asked NASA if he could be excused from media Q&A press conferences leading up to his forthcoming flight citing his reluctance to answer questions regarding his wife's condition.

The report went on to speculate what his response might be to crew briefings... were such questions to be asked.

Hats off to the guy for even participating in the mission. I just hope to goodness he is afforded the respect he and his family deserve.

Editor's note: Threads merged.

issman1Mr. Kelly should expect nothing less than inquisitiveness from the non-specialist news media.

To be fair to them, he's not a space tourist paying his own way. STS-134 is taxpayer-funded, so he's not in a position to refuse to answer every journalist.

And I'm sure NASA knows the human interest angle is now central to the mission.

Robert Pearlman
quote:
Originally posted by Rick Mulheirn:
Mark Kelly has asked NASA if he could be excused from media Q&A press conferences
To clarify, Kelly asked NASA public affairs to cancel his participation in one-on-one media interviews scheduled for today, but will still take part in today's STS-134 crew news conference.
Rick Mulheirn
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
STS-134 is taxpayer-funded, so he's not in a position to refuse to answer every journalist.
For questions pertaining to the mission you are quite right. His private life however is nobody's business but his own; last I heard Gabrielle Giffords was not on the STS-134 crew.

issman1You missed the whole point. If Mr. Kelly was flying on his own merit, like some of the space tourists, he could recuse himself from press conferences altogether.

But as mission commander and government employee he's obligated to answer whatever is thrown at him. Even a polite no comment would suffice.

Remember, the Kelly brothers have almost celebrity status among modern-day astronauts.

Robert Pearlman
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
But as mission commander and government employee he's obligated to answer whatever is thrown at him.
NASA Policy on the Release of Information to News and Information Media:
NASA employees are not required to speak to the media.

Rick Mulheirn
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
You missed the whole point.
Apologies if I have missed your point. I have to confess my viewpoint is somewhat clouded by the fact my wife was seriously ill some years ago and empathy with Mark Kelly is perhaps clouding my judgment.

The fact he is participating in STS-134 at all is, in my opinion, quite remarkable. I was thinking back to my own experiences and came to the conclusion that were I in his shoes I would have dealt with the initial media interest, but after making known my feelings about continued questioning on the subject, would have felt obligated to punch the next person who mentioned it.

Maybe that is just one reason (among many) why I am not a shuttle astronaut.

issman1Again, I'm simply trying to see things from the news media side. Reporters who regularly cover NASA know the policy.

It's the non-specialist hack writers whose reporting may leave a lot to be desired. Perhaps that's what Mr. Kelly is wary of plus their motives (and rightly so). However, if Rep. Giffords does attend the launch there will undoubtedly be a circus.

Rick Mulheirn...in my own clumsy way I've just stumbled across your point!
AJ
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
But as mission commander and government employee he's obligated to answer whatever is thrown at him. Even a polite no comment would suffice.

I understand your point, but just because someone is a government employee does not mean he or she is an indentured servant. His "obligation" is to do his job to the best of his abilities, not to answer questions that are of no business of anyone else's.

issman1That is precisely why NASA should have made it clear to news media weeks ago that Mr. Kelly would not respond to questions about his personal life. Period.

It turns out Scott Kelly abruptly cancelled previously scheduled media interviews in Houston on March 22 for the very same reason. I don't blame the brothers for their stance. May be it's the fault of JSC public affairs?

Jay Chladek
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
However, if Rep. Giffords does attend the launch there will undoubtedly be a circus.
Not as much as you might think.

The families of astronauts are very well protected at launches and every member of the press who gets approval to attend a launch has to pass security checks. The VIPs who aren't family are also kept away from the press as well. That typically keeps the "hacks" to a minimum.

If anyone were to try and do something not approved (such as trying to go a place where they are not authorized to get some audio or video recordings), you can bet KSC security is going to come down on them like a ton of bricks since they are on US Government property.

brianjbradleyKelly and/or NASA PAO made the right call to hinder access to Kelly and questions about the status of Gabrielle Giffords. What happened to her was a tragedy, but it would not be fair to Kelly, the -134 crew and flight, or the entire program to overshadow this mission and it's risks, with the recovery status of the mission's commander. Those questions need to be directed to Giffords' office and representatives.
issman1Watching the crew press conference, it appears both Mr. Kelly and JSC public affairs slightly relented on their earlier position.

All publicity may not be good, but as the shuttle programme ends it may not necessarily be a bad thing.

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