Sunday, November 14, 2010

Let's declare war on Space!

NASA recently discovered cracks in the foam covering the external fuel tank of the Space Shuttle Discovery thus delaying the shuttle's final's mission to deliver spare parts (important spare parts, according to NASA's website) to the International Space Station. Yup, that's the final mission for our 1.7 billion dollar shuttles, boldly delivering parts. Take that, nerdy hopes and dreams! The space program has become a glorified Radio Shack that delivers. Why? Lack of interest.

"Did someone order a ham radio
and some 'D' batteries?"

It's no wonder the program is underfunded. Maybe if the Discovery were delivering something the ISS crew actually wanted like Tang or space porn we might care. Remember Armageddon? (No? Good, it sucked.) The space shuttle in that movie went on a mission to nuke an asteroid heading towards the Earth. Does anybody really think Steven Tyler could squeeze a power ballad out of Spare Parts Run '10?

*all figures invented by me.
What? At least I'm up front about it.

I don't pretend to understand the Federal Budget (well I do, but really I don't), but depending on the pie chart, we spend 1 Kagillion more dollars on the military than we do on NASA. I'm not saying that national defense isn't important, I'm just saying that we could spend a little more on science and a little less coming up with new and interesting ways of blowing people up.

Look, bottom line: underfunding NASA is a bad idea for a number of reasons and that number is basically three. Here they are:

I like to live dangerously.
1) I used to drive a 1989 Carolla with 150,000 miles on it. One day, while driving, it just stopped. The Space Shuttle Discovery is an '84 with 142 million miles on the clock, cracked foam on the fuel tanks and was built by the lowest bidder. If it stops working there's a good chance it could do so at 22 thousand miles above the Earth. I can not imagine the epically huge Spaceballs it must take to ride something like that into orbit.

The moon? Don't we own and
play golf on that?
2) A couple of months ago, China's space agency launched another lunar probe as part of a program that will eventually lead to manned missions. Remember when we used to do cool stuff like this? No, of course you don't. Hell, your parents probably have only a hazy memory of the ' small step for man...' speech. Now the only time the space program gets mentioned is when something has gone terribly wrong. We are in grave danger of loosing the only thing we got out of the Cold War: bragging rights. Well, bragging rights and Tetris.

Ironic, isn't it?

3) Let's face it, we are going to be woefully unprepared when the aliens show up. Woefully. Our state of the art satellites allow our iPhones to tell us where we are in relation to the nearest Starbucks. Aliens have mastered interstellar travel (but not the emotion we humans call 'love'). We will be like insects compared to them. For real everybody, we have got to get on this space thing, if for no other reason than to avoid embarrassment.

Oh, he's so got it coming...
What can we do you say? Shut up, I'm getting there. I say we declare War on Space. It's the perfect way to get the funding and political will we need to get us back on top of the space exploration heap. We love declaring war on things like drug use and terror, and they're abstract concepts. So why not space? It has the advantage of being a real thing, and let's be honest, we've gone to war on flimsier pretexts. Instead of sending probes to sniff Martian rocks, let's send an invasion force. Instead of the Space Shuttle Discovery, let's send the Earth Star Cruiser Revengance on a mission of conquest. Our brave space-troops (or "Sproops" as I propose we call them) will crush any and all resistance as they plant the Earth flag on the surface of Mars. Science: Accomplished!

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