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Rocket Man - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Rocket Man [Jan. 17th, 2004|02:06 pm]
[Current Mood |cynicalcynical]
[Current Music |Eminem - White America]

Thanks to President Shrub, we are abandoning real science for science fiction.

In the quest to put a permanent settlement on the moon and to send people to Mars, NASA is abandoning the Hubble Telescope. Why? Because they can't get a shuttle mission to the telescope before the shuttle is retired, and they have orders to spend their money on developing Mission to Mars.

Yeah, we can only wish it was Disney.

Don't get me wrong: I have always been a HUGE fan of NASA and manned space flight. I remember the thrill of the first man on the moon, and I sat late night vigils with the rest of America when the Apollo 13 crew was struggling for survival. If there was a permanent outpost on the moon, I would do everything I could to get myself there. If I could leave for Mars tomorrow, knowing that I could never make a return trip, I would be on that ship.

But when I look at the figures that the Shrubbery is pledging to commit to this project, I can but cringe. A billion dollars a year for the next decade? That's what's known as feasibility study money. Sure, to you and me that's big bucks, but we're spending close to 100 times that amount just trying to keep the lights on in Iraq. A sober estimate of what it would take to create a permanent settlement on the moon and land on Mars would be in the neighborhood of a trillion dollars. Plus annual infusions of billions to support said space colony.

The reality is that this is not happening. Because it's not justifiable, economically. The benefits are just not there to make the investment worthwhile. But while President G. W. HowdieDoodie is busy being No Jack Kennedy, Hubble will go out of focus and our lens on the origins of the Universe will go dark.

So, why is this happening? Junior never evinced a particular fascination with the space program before now. A cynic mught suggest that he is trying to set himself up as the next Jack Kennedy, but I cannot credit that much guile to the man - mostly because he is so painfully stupid. This conversation is the genisis of the idea that I imagine:

End of November, White House office, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld listening to a phone ringing on conference call. A click as the line is picked up.


Rumsfeld: Mr. President? It's Don. I'm here with Dick Cheney. How are you?

George Herbert Walker Bush: Oh, fine! I'm surprised to hear from you boys on Thanksgiving! Barbara, it's Dick and Don! Yeah! Barbara says hi.

Rumsfeld: Give her our best. Mr. President, we've called to talk about George.

Bush: Oh, dear. What's that boy up to?

Cheney: He's starting to...ask questions. Interfere with things. You told us this wouldn't happen.

Bush: You aren't keeping him busy enough. I told you - he's like a monkey. Not that bright, but likely to cause mischief.

Rumsfeld: Well, invading Iraq was a good suggestion, but he's so enthusiastic he wants to invade other countries. And get involved in domestic policy. This just won't do.

Bush: Hmmmm. Well, when he thought he should be involved in the family business down here, I gave him the Texas Rangers....

Cheney: [snorts] And look how well that turned out.

Bush: Yes, but it kept him from wrecking more of the family business. He needs something that looks important but is really expendable.

Cheney and Rumsfeld looks at each other, frowning. Then they simultaneously smile.

Cheney and Rumsfeld: NASA!!!!

Bush: [laughing] That's a great idea guys!

Rumsfeld: Yeah, and it's not like Sammy Sosa is an astronaut....

[User Picture]From: ashna
2004-01-17 12:05 pm (UTC)
No fucking way.
That is NOT right!
Half of NASA isn't even American! other countries are involved in that too!
They can't abandon Hubble! Screw people on Mars. It's just a big block of ice!
oh... this is the most depressing thing I've read in a long time.

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-01-18 06:19 am (UTC)
It makes me terribly sad, too.
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From: jrtatsc
2004-01-19 06:16 am (UTC)
Actually, all of NASA is American.

Major parts of the space station, and 1/3, 1/2, or 2/3 of every space station crew, are provided by other countries, though. And Cassini is carrying a Titan probe that was built by the ESA.
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[User Picture]From: crwilley
2004-01-17 12:19 pm (UTC)
When I heard they were abandoning Hubble, it was like a knife through my heart. The closest name I could come up with for the feeling was "mourning". Hubble's flawed lens originally earned it "fiasco" status, but once they fixed it it's proven to be worth every penny ever invested in it.

I can only believe this is a plan to destroy the space program entirely. I'm all in favor of going to Mars, or back to the moon to establish a permanent presence - but it needs to be done properly, and giving NASA a couple extra pennies with which to carry out a truly *dumb* (but approved by Karl Rove!) scheme isn't proper.

Meanwhile...what are the astronomers who depend on Hubble going to do? Especially given that the Mission to Mars might also put a halt to the planned replacement for Hubble that was supposed to go up around 2010?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-01-18 06:19 am (UTC)
You may be right about the longterm plan actually being the dismantling of the space program - from what I've seen the majority of NASA people certainly aren't psyched about this new challenge. And as for the astronomers, I guess they keep working with what they've got until it blinks out.

So sad.
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[User Picture]From: correspondguy
2004-01-17 11:24 pm (UTC)


I understand the problem with getting stuff to Hubble - I have a lot of reservations about the shuttle program - but what the fucking fuck?

*inarticulate ranting about the short sighted-ness of the Bush Admistration*

*Random gibbering*

*Annoyance at idiots running the country*

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-01-18 06:16 am (UTC)

Re: Argh!

The shuttles are definitely turning into '73 Chevies with that rustoleum colored paint on one door, but that's because they haven't been upgraded and they are just plain wearing out. Without them, though, how do we hold up our end of the bargain re: the space station? It's a worrisome development.

And I agree with all your insightful commentary.

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From: jrtatsc
2004-01-19 06:13 am (UTC)

Re: Argh!

After 2010, at least, we don't hold up our end of the bargain because the shuttles will be retired.

And he said that after a certain date (which I'm remembering as 2006, but which could be a different year entirely), all of the U.S. science on the space station would be focused on something like the effects of weightlessness on humans. Which sounds to me like, basically, we aren't interested in the space station either.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-01-19 06:48 am (UTC)

Re: Argh!

Can we PLEASE send these guys home next November? PRETTY please???
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[User Picture]From: ytaya
2004-01-18 02:59 am (UTC)
.. and this way, come the election campaign his team can honestly say their candidate is a space cadet ;)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-01-18 06:17 am (UTC)
Ooooo. Ouch! Love it!
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[User Picture]From: theferrett
2004-01-18 08:17 am (UTC)
Lovely. Your dialogue works.

I'd go over there to tell you, but I'm too lazy and I figure you prefer the immortalization anyway.
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From: jrtatsc
2004-01-19 06:10 am (UTC)
Hey, it was the Texas Rangers, not the Houston Astros.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-01-19 06:43 am (UTC)
Oh, damn.

But I'm amused that it took this long for somone to notice.
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[User Picture]From: dawntreader90
2004-01-20 04:03 pm (UTC)
*whimper* :~(
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