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NASA HQ News Distribution Goes On-Line - July 1994

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Brian Welch
Headquarters, Washington, D.C.                                        
July 20, 1994
(Phone:  202/358-1600)

RELEASE:  94-121


        Distribution of news releases and other informational 
materials from NASA Headquarters will take a giant leap into 
the Information Age starting Monday, 
July 25.

        As of that date, Headquarters will no longer distribute 
news releases, contract announcements or notes-to-editors by 
mail.  Use of electronic distribution services such as the 
Internet, Compuserve and Fax-on-Demand will become the primary 
means of informing the news media and the public about NASA 
activities and programs.  Text-only versions of mission press 
kits also will be available via on-line services. 

        "We are excited by the possibilities inherent in this 
new way of doing business," said Geoffrey H. Vincent, Deputy 
Associate Administrator for Public Affairs and head of the 
Agency's public affairs Internet steering group.  "Over time, 
this change will save the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of 
dollars and allow us to meet our customers' needs in a much 
more effective and efficient manner."  

        The changeover to electronic distribution of news 
material has been planned for almost a year, Vincent noted.  
"The Internet is quickly evolving, and we hope to evolve with 
it," he said.  "In the years ahead, vast amounts of 
information on space exploration, from news releases to 
historical documents and photographs -- eventually even video 
-- will be available not just to reporters, but to teachers, 
students and anyone else who wishes to access it."

        Use of the Internet to obtain information on space-
related topics is one of the fastest growing aspects of the 
service, he added.  "Since July 8, for example," Vincent said, 
"there have been more than 90,000 inquiries on a computer 
server at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for information on the 
collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with the planet Jupiter.  
This is just one example of the tremendous interest that 
exists, and the virtually unlimited possibilities of this new 

        Although the primary means of news distribution will be 
by on-line services, news media currently on the Headquarters 
distribution list will continue to receive news releases by 
fax.  Press kits will continue to be sent by mail for the 
foreseeable future, but that practice ultimately will be 
phased out as technological advances permit.


        The NASA Headquarters Internet database will contain 
NASA news releases, mission press kits, contract 
announcements, notes-to-editors, fact sheets and other 

        NASA press releases can be obtained automatically by 
sending an Internet electronic mail message to 
[email protected]  In the body of the message (not the subject 
line) users should type the words "subscribe press-release" 
(no quotes).  The system will reply with a confirmation via E-
mail of each subscription.  A second automatic message will 
include additional information on the service.

        Informational materials also will be available from a 
data repository known as an anonymous FTP (File Transfer 
Protocol) server at under the directory 
/pub/pao.  Users should log on with the user name "anonymous" 
(no quotes), then enter their E-mail address as the password.  
Within the /pub/pao directory there will be a "readme.txt" 
file explaining the directory structure.


        An additional service known as fax-on-demand will enable 
users to access NASA informational materials from their fax 
machines.  Users calling (202) 358-3976 may follow a series of 
prompts and will automatically be faxed the most recent 
Headquarters news releases they request.


        Users with Compuserve accounts can access NASA press 
releases by typing "GO NASA" (no quotes) and making a 
selection from the categories offered.

        The Headquarters Newsroom also will operate an automated 
telephone system for users with problems accessing these 
information resources.  The number is (202) 358-4043.