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Sunday
Jan232011

In the Dark

It is Dark Week.

You're going to hear a lot about Challenger this time around; it's the twenty-fifth anniversary.

In a somewhat related story:  Virgin Galactic is taking reservations.  Deposit-- the deposit-- is $20,000. 

This year, I'm mad

What strikes me this year is that if you told the Apollo 1 astronauts what the state of 2011 NASA would be, I'm fairly certain that the three of them would travel the nation, door to door, kicking asses.

Here's the thing.  Barring predictions that in six months we'll all be eating slightly warmed rat parts over Sterno, space exploration will continue in the private sector, and that is marvelous.  Now: What to do with NASA, when Atlantis' primary mission at the moment is to be canniballized for parts?  The main point of NASA isn't to send people and unmanned probes into space anymore?  We're thisclose to the private sector making astronauts of your average ketchup pack distribution technician?  Terrific.  Miller time.  Job well done. 

So gut the program, keep on a skeleton crew to babysit the Hubble, Voyager 1 and the experiments on the International Space Station, and let's go on with our Johnson Space Center Museum and Wedding Reception Hall lives. 

And please-- no emails about regretting using public funds at all, EVER when we still have Golden Throat Homeless Guy, potholes the size of your average Trump ego, and a national debt which has obliterated the meaning of the world "trillion."  This was once a matter of national security.  A percentage of one penny out of every tax dollar is currently allocated to NASA, and making the entire entity go poof isn't going to balance the fact that if Bill Gates forked his entire net worth over to retiring the national debt, he would cover maybe two months or so of the interest payments. And anyway, the whole entire Apollo program cost one seventh of the bipartisan stimulus bill.  (I know.  Math.  But it's pie-related math, and that I can pretty much grasp, blonde though I am.)  So finish the two remaining shuttle missions, and shut it down.

If we're done... let's be done. Don't slap the NASA name on everything from to global warming research to faster, cheaper drinking straws as a public sop to sentiment.  You cheapen it.  Don't cloak everything vaguely science fair-sounding in the meatball logo and images of flags being saluted on the Moon-- images people died and sacrificed marriages, sanity, and careers to achieve. It's gross. It's offensive.  It is grossly offensive.  Also offensively gross.  And everything in between.

In other years, I've felt sorrow; now I am angry. Because they deserve better, all of them-- and so do we.

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