A bit of news going around that Tom Cruise helped redesign the NASA website.
O’Keefe, who was NASA administrator from 2001-2005, said that Cruise is a “big space nut” and that when he paid a visit to NASA offices, the actor said the agency’s website wasn’t really designed for the masses. He then offered one of his “tech heads” who worked on his movie trailers to help the agency out by redesigning the site.
“So I took him up on the offer,” O’Keefe says in the video, “and it changed the appearance of that website in a way that made it inviting, interesting. Folks wanted to participate — you know, here it is, it jumps out at you.”
The work by Cruise’s team was done for free to the government, and was a major improvement. It’s worth noting that Cruise never mentioned this to anyone or attempted to take any credit. It was mentioned by O’Keefe 13 years later.
Keeping in mind that this was done in 2002 (before a lot of current thinking in web design), here’s the original (and truly wretched) site:
Ugh. Memories of Geocities!
The new website was substantially better.
Getting past a Flash intro (hey, it was 2003…), we can see the changes:
You had the ability to actually navigate the site, find what you needed, and it didn’t look like someone just threw up on your screen. In short, a very credible improvement.
You can enjoy it all yourself at Archive.org.
Of course, NASA went through evolutions, and the current website is a whole world different than the past.
In short, Cruise should be thanked for pitching in to help this very valuable agency.