Adios, space shuttle!
If you didn't know that the space shuttle Atlantis made it's final flight this morning, the absolute final space shuttle flight before the entire fleet is mothballed, then you are dumb. The truth is, our legendary space program is besieged by budget cuts. As America's ambitions and imagination shrink, so does our collective desire to boldly go where very, very few men and women have gone.
Maybe if we had named the space shuttle the "Star Hawk" and astronauts "Galaxy Commander", more people would care about NASA. Maybe if the space program were sponsored by Red Bull Sauce, and each liftoff was actually the climax of a Lady Gaga concert, then Joe and Jane Six-pack and their daughter Whatevrina would give a bowel movement.
But I don't think any body cares. Here are ten reasons NASA is awesome.
1.) When the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first man-made object in space, the world trembled that the communist empire would soon rule the heavens. But not America. We found a bunch of hotshot test pilots, rounded up a team of super eggheads and just started lobbing rocket after rocket into the sky. We succeeded over and over again and keep succeeding at it.
2.) When President Kennedy gave the country a ten year deadline to conquer the moon, America went "We can do it in less time, bro." That's how the Moon became the 51st state.
3.) NASA is in the business of attracting amazing people. Just watch that space shuttle launch. FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! But it's not the giant dynamite stick that is awesome. It's the bro behind the wheel of what is essentially one huge, controlled explosion. The Endeavour is commanded by veteran astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of wounded US Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was able to personally watch the liftoff in Florida instead of Houston, Texas, where she is still undergoing rehabilitation after surviving an assassination attempt. I'd suggest they make a movie about this couple, but I don't think Hollywood can pull off a love story about two highly-accomplished people, one who rides giant Roman candles and the other who took a bullet just because she was a member of the world's most powerful club. The word "hero" is really overused. But these two crazy kids? Would it kill us all to look up to this astronaut and his amazing wife just a little bit? Brad and Angelina will still be here when our attention span fails.
4.) As Americans, we need to reject the terminally dumb of our society. Those pious knuckledraggers who reject science as mumb-jumbo, who believe that Moses rode a dinosaur and think that "genes" are European denim. NASA is the public face of American scientific achievement and some of the greatest Americans who ever lived were scientists. Jefferson? Scientist. Franklin? Scientist. Batman? Scientist.
5.) NASA has affected your life in ways you don't even realize. Hey, do you like microwaving Hot Pockets? Drinking Tang? Vacuuming your rug? Of course you do. All those things were invented by NASA. Do you want to live in a world without Tang?
6.) NASA is basically the closest any of us will ever come to Starfleet, the space explorers with photon torpedoes from Star Trek.
7.) Have you ever read the book The Right Stuff? Okay. Fine. Have you ever downloaded to your info-pad a copy of Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff? Its about the original Mercury Program astronauts. These men were fearless and brilliant and every dude should read it. Because modern men need standards.
8.) A massive asteroid is heading straight for Earth! It could wipe down all of humanity! Quick — who are you going to call? The 700 Club? The Department of Housing and Urban Development? Justin Bieber? No. You know exactly who you're going to call. Wouldn't it suck if NASA wasn't on call, well-funded and ready to kick space butt?
9.) For the sake of national security, we need to make sure NASA has all the scrilla it needs. The weaponization of space is the new frontier for those countries who wish ill on these United States. I'm not advocating floating death rays, but its nice to know we have a little bit of an edge.
10.) Our nation is in a serious shame spiral. The collective American self-esteem is in the dumps. Everyone is broke. Wars are endless. Judging from the nightly news, we're a country of loudmouth know-it-alls impotent with rage and clinically incapable of admitting wrong or taking any responsibility for anything. NASA is a shining example of America at it's best, a symbol of the explorers spirit that dared previous generations to win the west, take flight and fight evil. NASA is awesome because to those daredevil brainiacs, the sky is the limit. Their dreams are our dreams, and dreams should not be grounded.