Smart planning & community engagement minimizes contention around the expansion of one of the world’s largest radio astronomy telescopes

Complex stakeholders, politics, and resistance require strategic messaging and advocacy to build support.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory Next Generation Very Large Array (ngVLA) telescope presents exciting possibilities for space exploration while promising to revitalize remote and rural communities.  Approved and funded by the National Science Foundation, the ngVLA will dramatically expand the footprint of the current VLA beyond New Mexico, to incorporate four U.S. states, multiple Native American communities, and the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua.

Many large science projects like this face local resistance and agenda-driven competitors that can be fatal to a project like the Superconducting Supercollider and the Supersonic Transport. But the ngVLA has additional challenges facing permitting and construction including the geographic, cultural, and linguistic diversity of locations involved in this project. A strong messaging and advocacy strategy that thoughtfully considers the needs of diverse local communities was required to answer concerns, mollify critics, and generate support for the ngVLA.

Agenda’s strategy included in depth background analyses and research, stakeholder engagement workshops and assessments, development of stakeholder engagement and communications plans, and a detailed calendar of actions and events along with guidance for multimedia service providers with updated branding guidelines.

We are positioned to provide continued strategic communications and engagement support to the project as it begins the permitting process, design approval, and prototyping with the start of principal construction expected in 2026.