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Advocating for a nobel peace prize: An innovative approach to promoting global space engagement

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In 2014, a group of volunteers launched an initiative to use the Nobel Peace Prize award process to achieve such engagement. This group successfully secured the nomination of the International Space Station (ISS) partners for the Nobel Peace Prize. ISS has been a platform for international collaboration and research for more than fifteen years, but currently faces a public relations challenge. While fifteen nations are involved in the daily operation of ISS and sixty-nine nations have performed space-based research on the station, many people in both the public and private sectors do not understand the value that the station provides to society and the diplomatic achievement that it represents. This status quo calls for greater innovation in the methods used to communicate the value of ISS as a political model for future international projects on Earth and in space. ISS has brought together countries that were enemies in recent history - in particular Cold War rivals the United States and the Russian Federation. It has connected once-competing technologies into the most complex engineering artifact ever developed by humankind. Increasing awareness of the value of these achievements is a great challenge in an era that has witnessed tightening budgets and increasing scrutiny of future expenditures in space. It is therefore vital to generate and promote public interest and understanding of the ISS program to effectively communicate the critical role of international collaboration in future space endeavors. Copyright ©2014 by the International Astronautical Federation. All rights reserved.
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IAC-14-E1.9
ADVOCATING FOR A NOBEL PEACE PRIZE: AN INNOVATIVE APPROACH TO PROMOTING
GLOBAL SPACE ENGAGEMENT
Merryl Azriel
Space Safety Magazine, United States, merryl.azriel@spacesafetymagazine.com
Matteo Emanuelli*, Andrew Henry, Carmen Felix, Andrea Gini§, Nikita Marwaha**, Aafaque Khan††
In 2014, a group of volunteers launched an initiative to use the Nobel Peace Prize award process to achieve such
engagement. This group successfully secured the nomination of the International Space Station (ISS) partners for the
Nobel Peace Prize. ISS has been a platform for international collaboration and research for more than fifteen years,
but currently faces a public relations challenge. While fifteen nations are involved in the daily operation of ISS and
sixty-nine nations have performed space-based research on the station, many people in both the public and private
sectors do not understand the value that the station provides to society and the diplomatic achievement that it
represents. This status quo calls for greater innovation in the methods used to communicate the value of ISS as a
political model for future international projects on Earth and in space. ISS has brought together countries that were
enemies in recent history in particular Cold War rivals the United States and the Russian Federation. It has connected
once-competing technologies into the most complex engineering artifact ever developed by humankind. Increasing
awareness of the value of these achievements is a great challenge in an era that has witnessed tightening budgets and
increasing scrutiny of future expenditures in space. It is therefore vital to generate and promote public interest and
understanding of the ISS program to effectively communicate the critical role of international collaboration in future
space endeavors.
I. PUBLIC AWARENESS OF ISS
Human spaceflight has always been the most popular
form of space exploration and utilization. Human
adventurers provide a focus and a story for the public
to follow and individuals to cheer on unlike, for
instance, an Earth observation satellite. However, the
long success of the International Space Station
program has made this particular human spaceflight
mission appear routine, lessening its appeal for the
general public. New, exciting programs and proposals
including non-governmental endeavors such as Mars
One and SpaceX’s Red Dragon and space tourist
* Institut Supérieur des Sciences Et Techniques (INSSET), France, matteoema@gmail.com
CGI, United Kingdom, akhenry@gmail.com
International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety, Mexico, carmen.felix.c@gmail.com
§ Space Safety Magazine, The Netherlands, ginian@gmail.com
** International Space University, France, nikita.marwaha@community.isunet.edu
†† Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, India, aafaque.khan@spacegeneration.org
initiatives such as Virgin Galactic, have drawn
attention at the expense of the important work being
accomplished onboard the International Space Station
(ISS). Even before ISS got off the ground, a series of
surveys across the United States, Canada, Japan, and
Western Europe showed that only 20% of the
population was “very interested” in space but 60% of
the population would want to take a vacation there. [1]
There are five space agencies at the heart of the ISS
Program, each catering to its own national or
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ISS PARTNERS
NASA, CSA-ASC, JAXA, Roscosmos, ESA
ISS NATIONS
United States
Denmark
Norway
Canada
France
Spain
Japan
Germany
Sweden
Russia
Italy
Switzerland
Belgium
Netherlands
United Kingdom
Table: 1: Agency partners in the International Space Station
program and the nations they represent. [2]
international constituency (Table 1). While none of
these agencies is directly responsible to a voting
public, their funding profiles and programmatic
priorities ultimately align with the value they are
perceived to deliver for their taxpayers. Support for
ISS is only as strong as its perceived economic,
scientific, technological, and political successes not
once, but continually, year after year. [3]
Empirical data on the public perception of ISS are
difficult to find in the public domain. Polling in the
1990s however showed strong support for the
program, before the first launch had even taken place.
At the time, the public supported international
collaboration, with over 50% of United States (U.S.)
residents favoring a partnership with Russia in 1996.
More recently, conclusions can be drawn from data on
the public opinion of human space exploration in
general. It has enjoyed steady support in the United
States since the 1960s with around 70% of the
population having a favorable view of the U.S. space
exploration program. [4] These figures suggest that the
ISS program enjoys broad public support in the United
States. A 2013 study of European attitudes towards
Space found that 57% of those surveyed thought that
investing in human space exploration could lead to
medical advances for Earth, but the public is evenly
divided on whether such exploration is important. Of
those who deem it important, 27% expect space
exploration to promote peaceful international
cooperation. [5]
There is a perception that space exploration is an
expensive endeavor. While NASA’s share of the U.S.
federal budget is currently at around 0.5%, polling
shows that the public believes, on average, that
NASA’s share of the budget is around 20% [4]. This
perception perhaps persists from the Apollo era, when
NASA commanded significantly higher percentages
of the U.S. Federal budget. Despite this, only 20% of
the polled public believes that NASA’s funding is
excessive. This suggests that the public would support
much higher levels of funding for the space program,
in the United States at least. In fact, funding for NASA
has decreased in real terms over the last few funding
cycles. It is therefore important to convey to the public
the return on their investment in the space program, in
order to galvanize support for increased funding. [3]
To this end, one focus of the outreach carried out by
the ISS for the Nobel Peace Prize group has been on
highlighting experiments and technological spinoffs
derived directly from ISS research.
As space endeavors have evolved from an adrenaline-
pumping race to steady, decades-long development
programs, media has been challenged to adapt to the
change. While it is easy for journalists to cover
launches, landings, and failures, they find it more
difficult to address incremental and interdisciplinary
progress. [6] By linking ISS and the ISS partnership
with the Nobel Peace Prize, we introduce a novel news
story approach that journalists can pursue to
communicate the successes of the ISS program.
Without such media coverage, the general public will
have few access points to learn about the existence of
such a program, much less the benefits it confers.
Global awareness of the International Space Station
has been boosted in recent years through its
appearance in film and television, and through
successful social media campaigns. The film Gravity,
which earned over US$700 million worldwide,
increased public awareness of the station and the issue
of sustainable spaceflight. This was perhaps at the cost
of realism, and did not do much to inform the public
of the scientific mission of the station, or justify the
investment in it. More successful in these respects
have been social media campaigns by astronauts
onboard the station such as Chris Hadfield, and high
profile televised events such as BBC’s Live from
Space: Lap of the Planet, and NASA’s own
International Space Station Live!, which live-streams
views and activities from ISS.
These go some way towards raising the public profile
of the station, but there still exists a lack of knowledge
about what ISS is used for, why it was built, and
whether it delivers good value for its cost. Perhaps the
most important gap in public understanding is of the
diplomatic achievement that the International Space
Station represents. It is hoped that by nominating the
ISS partnership for the Nobel Peace Prize we will shed
some light on the diplomatic effort that went into not
only the station itself, but the agreements and
framework that made it possible.
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II. POLITICAL HISTORY OF ISS
From Freedom to ISS
Back in 1981, NASA had urged U.S. President Ronald
Reagan to approve a space station program to rival the
Soviet Union’s successful Salyut program. Three
years later, Reagan directed NASA to “develop a
permanently manned space station” by the end of the
decade. The station, to be named Freedom, was
expected to cost about $8 billion, and to be launched
by 1992, in order to celebrate the 500th anniversary of
Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America.
Reagan invitedother countries to participate” in the
Space Station Freedom Program; the invite, however,
did not include the Soviet Union. [7]
The Freedom Space Program was seen as a great
opportunity to establish their respective human
spaceflight programs by Europe, Japan, and Canada,
who joined the program a year later.
Canada considered the space station as a
developmental step and a technological stimulant for
the nation. Karl Doetsch of the National Research
Council, who had managed the Remote Manipulator
System project for Canada, also remarked: “the rate of
return on investment is important, but the strategic
benefits are also important.[8, p. 44]
For Japan, Reagan’s invitation came in a moment of
decreasing space budget, with no meaningful growth
in view. “Japanpoliticians includeddoes not want
to miss the boat. The Japanese space community wants
to participate, related Nobutyki Arino, Director,
TRW Overseas, Aerospace America in an 1985
interview. [8, p. 36] The guideline was “establishment
of autonomy.” “Japan should possess advanced
capability in order to implement space development
activities properly at its discretion.To achieve this
goal, Japan undertook to develop two contributions to
the station: the H-II launch vehicle and what became
the Kibo laboratory, a concept developed by
Mitsubishi that impressed NASA as an example of the
early benefits of international cooperation in space. [8,
p. 37]
Europe presented a wide variety of approaches and
points of view. France wanted to emphasize improved
launch systems. Germany and Italy wanted to develop
human spaceflight capability and continue close
cooperation with the United States on that front.
Britain wanted the European Space Agency (ESA) to
undertake applications programs that produce tangible
benefits, rather than research or exploration-oriented
activities. Other smaller ESA members just wanted a
diversified program that allowed meaningful scientific
and industrial participation. [8]
By 1984, the German-Italian Columbus program, a
space station module based on the SpaceLab, became
the first important contribution of ESA to the Space
Station Program. Britain agreed to contribute to
Columbus by developing the laboratory’s automated
platforms, in particular its remote sensing capability.
In late 1984, France gave its support to Columbus in
exchange for support for its Ariane 5 program. [8, p.
34]
From a technological point of view, Space Station
Freedom went through several stages of design, before
being put on hold following the collapse of the Soviet
Union. [9]
In 1993, the newly elected U.S. President Bill Clinton
did not see much value in Freedom, and tried to cancel
it to reduce the federal deficit. He ultimately instructed
NASA Administrator Dan Goldin to come up with a
design that could allow a significant saving in cost.
In a June 17, 1993 press release, President Clinton
announced that “NASA has met that challenge.” The
new design would “save an estimated $18 billion over
the projected two decade life of the program, with
more than $4 billion in savings in the next 5 years due
to decreased development, operations, and
management costs.” [10]
In the meantime, Russia’s Mir2 program was on hold
because of lack of funding. Russian space agency
Roscosmos had advanced proposals to merge the
Freedom and Mir2 programs. They saw this as an
opportunity to repurpose two modules that they had
already built for the Mir2 program. As an inducement,
they noted that the inclusion of a Russian service
module in the early assembly phase would have
allowed the Freedom station to become operational
from early in the construction phase.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S.
government became concerned that without funding
and a direction Russian engineers and technological
prowess could be dispersed, possibly acquired by
rogue states. An international space station program
was exactly the kind of opportunity that the U.S.
government was seeking to establish good relations
with the new political identity and prevent the rise of
a new Cold War.
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On September 2, 1993, U.S. Vice President Al Gore
announced a joint agreement with Russia comprising
a space station partnership. NASA’s Administrator
Goldin saw this as a great opportunity to reduce the
program’s cost and increase its value. Russia had
accumulated over 20 years of experience in running
the successful Salyut and Mir space station programs:
this was exactly the kind of experience that NASA was
lacking.
With Russian collaboration, the space station could
“become ready one year sooner, cost $2 billion less,
have 25% more usable volume and 42.5 kilowatts
more electrical power, and accommodate six instead
of four crew members.” [9, pp. 8-9]
Thanks to the collaboration with Russia, the Space
Station Program was repurposed, expanding its
rationale and turning it into a key element of foreign
policy, a critical U.S. imperative of that time.
While the early Freedom Space Station Program was
conceived as a U.S.-controlled Cold War initiative, the
ISS program promoted a complete reversal of the Cold
War mentality, getting people to open up, share, and
communicate with each other.
The following months saw momentum build. The
Shuttle-Mir program, announced in 1992, now became
Phase I of the ISS Program.
Preparing for ISS
Between 1995 and 1998, 11 Space Shuttle flights
docked with Mir (Figure 1), eight Russian cosmonauts
flew on the shuttle, and seven NASA astronauts lived
onboard Mir for long-duration increments.
While these flights were taking place, NASA and
Roscosmos cooperated in designing ISS using
Russian-built, U.S.-funded modules originally
developed for Mir2 to provide the foundational life
support system, power, and communications.
Japan and ESA provided their Kibo and Columbus
laboratories while Canada developed the Candarm2
robotic arm that was going to be an essential tool for
space station assembly.
The ISS partnership now comprised five space
agencies representing fifteen nations (Table 1).
A Real International Collaboration
At the beginning of the collaboration, “neither Russia,
nor the U.S. and its Space Station Freedom partners
knew exactly how to design, operate and resupply a
Figure 1: Space Shuttle Atlantis docked with Mir on STS-71
after dropping off Cosmonauts Anatoliy Y. Solovyev and
Nikolai M. Budarin [11]
space station of this size and complexity with 15
partner states.” [12, p. 8]
Roscosmos had experience with long duration
spaceflight on its Salyut and Mir space stations. They
knew how to optimize crew rotation, how to organize
the resupply logistics, and they had mastered
automatic rendezvous and docking.
NASA, on the other hand, had accumulated 10 years
of experience with conducting shorter duration, highly
sophisticated missions on the Space Shuttle, involving
complex EVAs for the deployment and servicing of
large spacecraft in Low Earth Orbit.
Apollo-Soyuz had proven that the U.S. and Russia
could cooperate on achieving an international docking
of two largely incompatible spacecraft systems.
The Shuttle-Mir programs paved the way for ISS. But
the ISS partnership brought international cooperation
to a whole new level. Shuttle-Mir was considered to
be a national program with international participation.
This meant that partner crewmembers were seen as
visitors, conducting their science in a host
environment.
ISS was established in a way that guaranteed each
national space program’s dependence on the others.
The American Shuttle and the Canadian Canadarm2
were instrumental in building ISS while Russian-built
Zarya and Zvezda modules were providing the station
with power, communication, and life support. The
Japanese HTV and European ATV cargo vessels
became crucial to resupplying the station, and the
Russian Soyuz is currently the only means to transport
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crewmembers.
According to William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s
Associate Administrator Human Exploration and
Operations Mission Directorate, “operating ISS is like
running a small city in the harsh environment of outer
space [where] multiple countries are involved in
operational decisions on a daily basis.” [12, p. 10]
A Legal Framework
This level of cooperation required the design of new
ways of operating, with Control Centers around the
globe cooperating to ensure seamless support to the
ISS.
An international endeavor of this magnitude required
a firm but flexible legal foundation. Back in 1988, the
U.S. and 11 other states had signed an
intergovernmental agreement containing the legal
arrangements for the Freedom space station. NASA
also had signed bilateral agreements with the Canadian
Space Agency, ESA, and Japan to detail how the
station should be built, and how the program would be
run.
The rules and mechanisms provided by these
agreements were so encompassing and flexible that
they could later be transferred to the new agreements
for ISS with very little change. According to
Gerstenmaier, “NASA and its Freedom partners could
transition to developing a completely different space
station under entirely new agreements with an entirely
new major partner Russia yet retain most of the
provisions of the earlier legal framework.” [12, p. 7]
Building a Station
On November 20, 1998, the Russian-built Zarya
module, originally intended for the Mir space station,
reached its operational orbit. On December 9, Space
Shuttle Endeavour rendezvoused Zarya and docked it
to the Unity node. This was the first international
docking after the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.
Figure 2: Joining Zarya and Unity, December 1998 [13]
Four days later, a crew boarded the International Space
Station for the first time.
On July 26, 2000, the Russian-built Zvezda became
the third module of the space station. For years to
come, Zvezda would provide ISS with a life support
system, electrical power distribution, a flight control
system, and telecommunication. To this day, Zvezda
is the main propulsion module of ISS, with Russian
Progress vessels being secondary.
Zvezda made possible a permanent crewing of the
Station. On October 31, 2000, the first international
increment was launched on a Soyuz vehicle, the
beginning of a permanent occupation that has lasted
uninterrupted to this day. In the following two years,
ISS acquired other important pieces such as the truss,
solar panels, the Canadarm2, and the U.S. laboratory
Destiny.
Exercising the Partnership
Then, on February 1, 2003, tragedy struck. While
reentering from a successful 16 days mission, Space
Shuttle Columbia disintegrated and burned up upon
atmospheric reentry, killing its crew of seven. The
U.S. space program was put on a hiatus during the
subsequent investigation.
The two years and a half following the Columbia
disaster saw a very tight collaboration between NASA
and Roscosmos to reorganize the logistics needed to
ensure continuity of operations. The Space Shuttle was
an integral part of the Space Station Program, so
assembly was put on hold until the vehicle was cleared
for operations. In the meantime, American crews were
flown on the Soyuz capsule and Russian Progress
vehicles resupplied the station with experiments and
consumables.
On July 26, 2005, the Space Shuttle returned to the ISS
for the first time since Columbia’s final flight. The 18
flights that followed enabled ISS to grow into the
largest human-made object in space and the most
complex engineering achievement ever developed.
The Columbia disaster led to the decision to cancel the
Space Shuttle program, but this could not be done until
ISS was completely assembled, a task that would be
accomplished in 2011. Even then, the U.S. could give
up the Shuttle only because they knew they could rely
on the Russian Soyuz for crew rotation. To this day,
IAC-14-E1.9 Page 5 of 12
the Soyuz is the only means available to send crew to
ISS. According to the current roadmap, NASA will not
acquire human spaceflight capability before 2017,
underscoring the reliance placed on this international
cooperation by its members.
Historical Impact
The scientific and engineering achievements of the
ISS pale in comparison with the diplomatic
breakthrough of a program born out of the ashes of the
Cold War, giving a new purpose to technology
originally conceived to disseminate death and
destruction and transforming them into ambassadors
for peace.
The recent developments of the international crisis in
Ukraine has brought back a similar atmosphere to that
which prevailed during the Cold War. While the U.S.
and Russian governments are experiencing a new level
of mutual suspicion and hostility, the ISS partnership
carries on its extraordinary example of international
collaboration.
III. IMPACT OF NOBEL PRIZE ON PUBLIC
PERCEPTION
Throughout history, prizes have been used both to
recognize accomplishments and incentivize
advancements. The Nobel Peace Prize is intended to
both recognize and incentivize, and its impact on
public perception can be assessed for these two
pathways.
When it comes to recognition, Nobel Prizes are
unmatched for their global influence. “The Nobel
Prizes show modern fame at its most dignified,” says
Burton Feldman, author of The Nobel Prize: A History
of Genius, Controversy, and Prestige. “The Nobel
Prize pays honor to some of the highest human
adventures in nature and matter, creativity and
justice.” Burton notes that because of the unusual
breadth of subjects addressed by Nobel Prizes, all who
are granted the title of Nobel laureate are treated “like
universal experts on everything.” [14]
Prolonged media attention to laureates and their causes
is somewhat erratic, with only an initial flurry of
coverage in some cases, while others receive sustained
attention. It has been demonstrated that state actors
pay particular attention to the philosophies promoted
by the Norwegian Nobel Committee through its
designation of laureates. This attention can manifest in
either progressive or regressive responses, but the
presence of a powerful impact is unmistakable. [15]
Nobel-scholar Roger Alford posits that Nobel Peace
Prize laureates have actively helped to construct the
norms of international law and relations that ultimately
become universally accepted. This has held true for
norms governing the waging of war, for
acknowledgement of human rights, and formation of
international organizations to address inter-state
conflict. Each cause rose in turn as it accrued a critical
mass of laureates to support it. The study indicates that
the Nobel Peace Prize can powerfully amplify
laureates’ areas of accomplishment. [16]
There are few peace prizes worldwide and none with
the status of the Nobel Peace Prize. But we can
extrapolate some impacts from incentive prizes, which
have a rich history. Successful incentive prizes have
been those open to a diverse pool of individuals,
professions, and backgrounds that harness a broad
swath of the public’s interest. The Longitude Prize of
1714, for instance, followed a series of smaller prizes
that cumulatively built awareness of the need for
improved ship navigation and piqued international
interest before finally being won by a clockmaker. The
Orteig Prize, famously won by Charles Lindbergh,
was intended to foster Franco-American friendship
and produced a boom in public interest and investment
in aviation. “This prize showed the potential of buzz
created by a high-profile prize,” says MIT’s Bharat
Bhushan. [17] More recent incentive prizes include
those of the XPrize Foundation, including the Ansari
XPrize that helped popularize suborbital spaceflight
and the ongoing Google Lunar XPrize that has focused
attention on amateur lunar exploration. These prizes
have been shown to achieve publicity, credibility, and
community access even for non-winners. [18]
History has shown that prizes in general and Nobel
Peace Prizes in particular can awaken the interest of
Figure 3: International Space Station photographed by STS-
134 in 2011 following the final construction mission
[44]
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politicians and the public in the causes so recognized.
It is this interest that we aim to awaken in the cause of
peaceful, large-scale international collaboration by
recognizing the ISS partnership.
The ISS program has achieved recognition through
lesser-known prizes, including the Prince of Asturias
Award for International Cooperation in 2001, the
Collier Trophy for American achievement in
aeronautics or astronautics in 2009, and the Aviation
Week Space Laureate Award for extraordinary
accomplishments in aerospace in 2010. [19;20;21] The
crews of ISS were selected to win the 2014
Westphalian Peace Prize for demonstrating that
peaceful international collaboration between partners
from different cultures is possible. [22] These prizes
have validated the technological and political value of
the ISS program and partnership. The Nobel Peace
Prize award will ensure that peoples around the world
gain awareness of this remarkable partnership and are
able to leverage its successful model to achieve new
and exciting international collaborations in space and
on Earth.
IV. ISS PARTNERSHIP FOR THE NOBEL
PEACE PRIZE: CAMPAIGN AND RESULTS
We undertook an initiative to promote the awarding of
a Nobel Peace Prize to the five partner space agencies
that jointly constructed and now operate the
International Space Station. This initiative has two
objectives: to achieve recognition of the ISS
partnership as a model for international collaboration
and to raise awareness of the remarkable achievements
of the ISS program. We strongly believe that the ISS
partnership deserves the Nobel Peace Prize while the
campaign provides value as a mechanism to discuss
the ISS program, its influence around the world, and
its robust partnership among powerful rival nations.
With the campaign as a vehicle, we were able to
engage political leaders and the public in a robust
discussion on the factors that make the ISS partnership
a good Nobel Prize candidate.
Building a Team
The first phase of this initiative began in November
2013. The idea of pursuing a Nobel Peace Prize
nomination was raised by a reader of Space Safety
Magazine in response to an editorial on the symbolism
of astronauts witnessing a missile test through the
window (Figure 4). This was not the first time such an
idea has been floated, but it was the first time that a
network of international organizations has chosen to
support and promote the initiative. We rapidly formed
an international team of passionate advocates who
took the idea to their communities to gather support.
The international staff of Space Safety Magazine was
soon supplemented by members of the Space
Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), alumni of the
International Space University, and board members of
the International Space Safety Foundation (ISSF) and
International Association for the Advancement of
Space Safety (IAASS). The original suggestion came
from a highly placed space agency official who was
also able to reach out to colleagues across national
boundaries. In the end, the 2014 initiative team
included members from the U.S., Italy, the U.K.,
Australia, the Netherlands, Mexico, India, Germany,
Japan, Ghana, Brazil, Uruguay, and Nigeria. We set up
a website and social media campaign, built a
documentation package, and began reaching out to our
networks and beyond.
Phase I: Securing Nominations
Nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize are due on
February 1 each year, providing us with around two
months to secure as many nominations as possible.
The process by which Nobel Peace Prize nominees are
considered is somewhat secretive, but it is thought that
a high number of nominations can help bring a worthy
candidate to the committee’s attention. 2014 turned
out to have the highest number of nominees ever, at
278. [23]
Our team members approached national elected
officials to request nominations. We provided
instructions and nomination templates on our website
and requested members of the public to reach out to
qualified nominees in their circles of influence [24].
We used our international network to reach policy
institutes even one United Nations organization
and requested nominations. We secured one large
corporate partner who requested nominations from
Figure 4: Exploding intercontinental ballistic missile as seen
from ISS on 11 October 2013 [45]
IAC-14-E1.9 Page 7 of 12
national elected officials. We received a strong
positive response when news that former U.S Vice
President Al Gore had encouraged the Russian
Academy of Sciences to make a nomination. [25] We
are still not certain whether that request was spurred
by one of our contacts or whether it was generated
spontaneously; within a few short months, word had
gotten out. By February 1, we were certain several
nominations had been submitted, officially putting the
ISS partnership in the running for the 2014 Nobel
Peace Prize.
Phase II: Engage Thought Leaders
With nominations secured, we turned our attention to
reaching a broader public to promote understanding of
the value the ISS partnership brings to space and to
global communities. We began by reaching out to
thought leaders and known space supporters. We
requested and secured editorials in Space News and in
Space Safety Magazine [26; 27;28]. We sent literature
to major space conferences. And we reached out to the
astronaut community, using a dedicated astronaut
petition to capture the perspectives of these influential
individuals on a subject that they know better than
anyone [29]. This last effort produced exceptional
results. Statements of support from select astronauts
are available on the issnobelprize.com website and
served to extend the reach of social media campaigns.
This astronaut involvement also spurred discussion in
the tightknit Association of Space Explorers (ASE), an
organization of all the individuals around the world
who have been to space. These individuals are
influential in their home countries and their space
agencies; we soon saw that their consideration helped
to spread our message.
Phase III: Grass Roots Outreach
The biggest challenge of this campaign has been to
effectively reach beyond space enthusiasts to impart
our message to the general public.
Our mechanisms to reach a general audience have
been social media and traditional non-space media.
Volunteers have established websites and posted
editorials in Ukraine and Brazil [30;31]. Traditional
media outlets have picked up the subject in Sweden
and Russia [32;33]. And, perhaps most significantly,
the ISS Partnership has been shortlisted on several
enumerations of 2014 Nobel Peace Prize candidates
[34; 35].
The intensity of our campaign has moderated since we
kicked off at the end of 2013, but early efforts are still
paying dividends as reports, editorials, tweets, and
press statements supporting or explaining the ISS
Partnership for Nobel Peace Prize initiative continue
to surface.
Challenges
Throughout the 2014 campaign, we have encountered
situations that have challenged the progress of the
initiative. While largely unanticipated, these situations
did serve as conversation-openers in many instances,
allowing us to engage in a dialogue with individuals
who might otherwise not have considered ISS in the
context of advancing global peace and cooperation.
Nobel Peace Prize Guidelines
When we launched an initiative to advocate for the ISS
partnership to receive a Nobel Peace Prize, we did not
anticipate that, to some degree, we would have to
become advocates for the Nobel Peace Prize itself. We
studied the nomination guidelines as we found
ourselves repeatedly questioned during our outreach
activities regarding the nuances of the rules governing
the prize nomination and award. One of the most
common responses to our request for nomination or
other support was confusion regarding the ability to
nominate an organization for this prize instead of an
individual. Both the 2012 and 2013 laureates were
organizations, a fact we communicated to alleviate this
concern [36]. We also became a focal point for
questions and opinions about past Nobel Prize awards.
While these detours were more extensive than
originally anticipated, they also served as
opportunities to engage a broad audience in a
discussion of the values the Nobel Peace Prize
embodies and why the ISS partnership
accomplishments align with those values.
Peace vs. Science
Many of the people who became acquainted with our
initiative questioned the propriety of nominating ISS
for the peace prize instead of a scientific prize. We
were happy to field such questions because they
probed the root of our quest: to build recognition for
the political infrastructure that makes the science
possible (Figure 5).
Reluctance to Advocate
As we spoke with space agency employees, officials,
and astronauts, they would sometimes question
whether supporting the ISS Partnership for Nobel
Peace Prize was self-serving, perhaps even
inappropriate, given their status as space ambassadors.
IAC-14-E1.9 Page 8 of 12
Figure 5: A joint ISS partner publication entitled
"International Space Station Benefits for Humanity"
identified these three achievements of the ISS program.
While engineering and research routinely receive
recognition, the international aspect of this program is
often undervalued. [37]
Individuals who were most able to speak to the value
of the ISS Partnership from personal experience often
felt unable to do so without their motives being
suspect. The very benefits they derived made them
reluctant to speak out in support of our initiative. Some
of these individuals were able to find ways to express
their approval while many more are still out there,
silently hoping we succeed. Such hesitance due to this
suspect bias of opinion means that there is more
support for this initiative than is currently visible.
The Ukraine Situation
At the heart of the ISS Partnership for Nobel Peace
Prize initiative, we are celebrating the successful
partnership of unlikely allies most notably Russia
and the U.S., or more generally, the West. The all too
common low-level hostility between these parties is
part of what makes the continued strength of the ISS
partnership so special. Nonetheless, the escalating
tensions in Ukraine throughout 2014, beginning with
Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the rounds of
sanctions and military aggression on the ground that
followed made a discordant accompaniment to our
quest to recognize these nations’ special relationship
with respect to ISS. At particularly tense moments,
some questioned whether the ISS partnership could
continue in the face of more Earthly hostilities
[38;39;40;41]. As 2014 draws to a close and the
selection of the Nobel laureate nears, it is now possible
to say that the geopolitical tragedy playing out in
Ukraine has only served to underscore the uniqueness
of the ISS partnership and the need to hold it up as an
example. At one memorable press conference in the
early days of the Ukrainian situation, NASA
Administrator Charles Bolden pointed to this initiative
as proof that the U.S.-Russia bond when it comes to
ISS is strong, able to withstand political ups and
downs [38].
Results
The outcomes of a public relations experiment such as
this one are difficult to measure. We have not
constructed an experimental control or a series of
surveys to measure changes in public attitudes towards
and their awareness of ISS. This initiative is not a
controlled study at all, but it can be used as a case
study to determine successful mechanisms to using a
high profile prize to influence public awareness of
space programs.
By one measure, the campaign will be successful if the
ISS partnership receives the Nobel Peace Prize.
However, we have seen that even a nomination for the
Nobel Peace Prize can bring dramatic positive
attention to a worthy cause. This was particularly on
display in Malala Yousafzai’s 2013 Nobel Peace Prize
loss: Ms. Yousafzai received nearly as much attention
upon not winning the Nobel Peace Prize as she might
have done on winning it [42;43]. Even without a Nobel
Prize, there are indications that our primary mission
to achieve enhanced recognition of the global value of
ISS and the political partnership at its foundation has
achieved some level of success. Press and editorial
pieces continue to surface. We have introduced a new
communication tool for the ISS and collaborating
space agencies when describing their value to the
public. We continue to see individuals around the
world share our Facebook updates or retweet a
poignant astronaut quote from our site. We have been
spontaneously contacted by site visitors and media
representatives. This progress is a strong sign that the
Nobel Peace Prize as an innovative approach to
promoting global space engagement is indeed an
effective method of outreach and communication.
There are several worthy candidates for the Nobel
Peace Prize this year. If the ISS Partnership is not the
winning candidate, we will continue to pursue its
nomination for 2015, a poignant year marking the 15th
anniversary of a continuous human presence in space.
VI. FUTURE STEPS
The Nobel Peace Prize winner is going to be
announced on October 10, 2014. Awarding the prize
to the ISS partnership this year would carry additional
significance, since 2014 marks the 100th anniversary
of the beginning of World War I hostilities, which
eventually led to the creation of the League of Nation
the first modern intergovernmental organization
whose principal mission was to maintain world peace.
However, according to some commentators, the ISS
partnership is not among the candidates favored to win
IAC-14-E1.9 Page 9 of 12
in 2014 [34]. In case the ISS partnership is not
awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year, the campaign
will continue in 2015, in order to guarantee
consideration for next year’s prize. The renewed
campaign will rely on existing collaborations with the
associations and organizations that have contributed
so far: IAASS, ISSF, ASE, SGAC, and Center for the
Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS). While the
2014 campaign particularly targeted elements within
the space community to build participation, the 2015
campaign would need to expand awareness outside of
this group. We will highlight specific events such as
the ESA Ministerial meeting where the European
ministers of the ESA member states will decide
whether or not to continue to support European
participation in the ISS program after 2020. We will
look to extend our mainstream media reach allowing
the initiative to reach a wider audience.
The contribution of the ISS partnership in creating a
tight and complex collaboration based on space and
science between countries that were mortal enemies
remains a vivid example for future similar situations.
Of particular interest to this effort is the attitude of
existing space powers towards collaboration with
rising space power China. Profiling the success of the
ISS partnership could provide an example for
policymakers to follow when it comes to incorporating
China into future space collaborations.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors wish to thank Ken Human for initiating
this project, as well as the many volunteers who have
contributed along the way. We particularly thank
Dieter Isakeit for putting his considerable expertise in
the area of international cooperation in human
spaceflight at our disposal. We would also like to
thank the astronauts who have given their public
support for this project, as well as IAASS, ISSF,
CASIS, SGAC, the International Space University,
Space Generation Advisory Council, and INNOVIM
for their support.
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